Posts tagged ‘development’

Waterloo Region Says Rapid Transit Project Attractive to Builders

Regional officials say the $818-million rapid transit project is getting a lot of attention from potential bidders.

“Our project is actually looking very attractive right now,” Thomas Schmidt, commissioner of transportation, told regional council on Tuesday.

“We are anticipating that between six to eight firms are interested in the request for qualifications.”

In October, the region will invite potential bidders to have their qualifications to design, build, finance, maintain and operate rapid transit evaluated.

Companies interested in bidding on the contract will answer questions on such issues as partnering, financing, construction experience, maintenance and operating experience.

Three front-runners will be shortlisted and invited to bid on the project in the spring. Construction on bus rapid transit is slated to start next summer and rapid transit in 2014.

“It’s attractive in different ways to different teams,” said Mike Murray, chief administrative officer.

Schmidt said bidders would be attracted by the scope of the project — without any tunnelling or other complicated work — and because of its scale.

“There are not very many, if any, big projects like this moving forward at this time,” Schmidt said.

The region expects capital costs involved in building tracks and infrastructure to be about $600 million.

About 25 per cent of that will likely be held back from the winning team and paid over the life of a 30-year contract as part of the design, build, operate, finance and maintain model.

The cash serves partly as an incentive to the contractors to do a good job and keep them from walking away from the project.

Coun. Jean Haalboom, who originally voted against using the private partnership model, said she still wasn’t satisfied.

“I remain very concerned about this,” she said.

Taking point on rapid transit is Darshpreet Bhatti, who was named director of rapid transit Sept. 25.

Bhatti, 33, has been acting director since Nancy Button resigned in March to take a consultant position in Toronto.

The University of Toronto engineering graduate has worked provincially as a consultant on transit, road and highway projects. He started on the region’s rapid transit project four years ago.

“I feel confident and I look forward to the future,” he said. “The experience over the last four years has given me that broad spectrum of what to expect.”

He added, “We need to make sure that we go out, we inform as much as we possibly can, and work with the community to give them the best product and service.”

Bhatti was appointed after the region searched across Canada and the U.S. for a new director and interviewed candidates from both countries, Schmidt said.

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October 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm Leave a comment

Cambridge Wants A Multi-Use Entertainment and Conference Facility

Council’s decision to spend $950,000 to purchase Galt’s Old Post Office was not unanimous and the sole dissenter believes the city has its priorities skewed.

Coun. Karl Kiefer opposed the purchase.

“I know I have been talking about the multi-use complex for more than a decade. The city deserves a multi-use facility. It should be next,” he told fellow councillors on Monday night.

Kiefer now intends to post a notice of motion recommending council adopt the multi-use complex as its next major project.

“I’ll also be making a notice of motion on the Preston Spring Gardens. It too should possibly be bought.

“It has been sitting for years and here are many people in the community that are concerned about its future,” he said.

Mayor Doug Craig was quick to point out that the Preston Spring Gardens, the vacant historic hotel at the corner of King and Fountain streets, is privately held.

“I recently met with the owners and they intend to start work again within six months,” Craig said.

“The Preston Springs is a wonderful building, but we need to talk with the owners first.”

In an interview with the Times Wednesday, Kiefer said the multi-use complex project would be a much more costly venture, but is still worth doing.

His original concept for the complex was to have two to four ice rinks, with seating up to 5,000 people. Given the city’s tight budget, Kiefer has reworked his idea.

“I’m still looking for at least a double rink with seating for about 2,500 people, but it’s not just an ice rink. It would also involve commercial, some sort of trade and entertainment centre. I’m looking for something for everyone here,” he said.

Like the Old Post Office project, Kiefer said it is going to need a private sector element.

“It’s a crucial part of it,” he said. “We’ll also want to get the province and the federal government involved.”

While disappointed that the city’s next major project will be the Old Galt Post Office/library expansion, Kiefer said, “I do support it. It has a good business plan.”

In June, council met to go over its capital project priorities and both the Old Post Office and the multi-use complex were adopted. However, council set no pecking order establishing which of the projects would be tackled first.

“That’s the mistake we made as a council,” Kiefer said. “I know the dam at Riverside Park will be next, but what’s third on the list. We’ll have to talk about that.”

Regarding the potential city acquisition of Galt’s Old Post Office, Kiefer said, “If the city is going into the business of acquiring historic buildings I’ve got a couple of beauties for them.”

Kiefer said that before putting forward any motion on the Preston Spring Gardens he was to first talk with the owners to hear what’s happening.

“I want to get my ducks in a row before I do anything,” he said.


October 1, 2012 at 7:45 pm Leave a comment

Raucous Crowd Out Against Development

More than 300 show up to oppose Foodland

A planner is urging members of North Dumfries Township Council to take a hard look at an application for commercial rezoning on Northumberland Street from a local standpoint.

Mark Dorfman, a planner with more than 45 years experience in the public and private sectors, said it shouldn’t only matter whether a new Foodland fits within the “guidelines” of provincial and regional planning documents and that it won’t remain an orphan along the “spine” of Ayr, if approved.

He urged council members to consider the implications of future commercial development along this thoroughfare of a village that is expected to grow substantially in coming years.

“For this reason alone, this development is premature,” he added. “It’s not a sound design objective in a residential setting.”

Dorfman was retained on behalf of a citizens’ group that opposes the development of a new, 26,000-square-foot Foodland on properties currently zoned residential, across from the Broom Street intersection.

Residents of Ayr are concerned about traffic safety and their quality of life, which will be interrupted by delivery trucks, car alarms, doors slamming, running motors and exhaust fumes. Above all, they say it’s simply the wrong place to put a grocery store.

More than 300 people showed up to a public meeting Monday evening at the North Dumfries Community Complex. Some lined the back wall of the MacNeil Room due to limited seating.

North Dumfries Mayor Rob Deutschmann put his gavel to use several times and at one point threatened to shut down the meeting due to a raucous response from the crowd assembled in opposition.

Victor Labreche, a planner on behalf of the development team, pointed out that a 500-metre radius surrounding the proposed grocery store is currently comprised of 45 per cent industrial land and 40 per cent residential.

The radius includes an elementary school and a curling rink. The grocery store would result in a more “complete community” and reduce vehicular traffic going to and from the village’s core, he argued.

The plan is to relocate the existing Foodland in the village’s core into a larger building offering full service and more products, as well as an LCBO agency store.

But residents appearing as delegations don’t go along with the proposal on the two-lane road, even despite the implementation of a 25m left-hand turn lane for southbound traffic – a measure they say would do little to improve traffic flow at certain times of the day when a railway line ties up commuters of the bedroom community.

Christina Dorian resides across the street from where the development could be situated and also envisions a McDonald’s and a gas station next door if a commercial precedent is set.

Residents say they aren’t against having a new grocery store, but would rather see commercial development clustered to the north in the vicinity of Greenfield Road that is surrounded by vacant industrial land.

North Dumfries planning consultant Steve Jefferson noted that provincial planning policies can restrict municipalities from using land designated industrial for commercial purposes.

He expects that recommendations pertaining to the proposed grocery store could come before council in the next two months.

“Let’s do this right and update our official plan for the future,” said James Dol, a main organizer behind the Save Our Community group.

Dol presented the mayor with a petition with more than 1,000 signatures.

Many people, both young and not so young, urged councillors to think of the future.

A 14-year-old girl asked decision makers to imagine growing up in Ayr 20 years from now.

“In math they say you can’t add apples and oranges together because you get the wrong answer,” she said. “There are many other places we could put this grocery store.”


October 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm Leave a comment

Kiwanis Park to be SOLD?

The City of Kitchener is in the midst of determining whether to declare several properties across Kitchener as surplus. The parcel of land in Kiwanis Park – approximately 9.6 hectares (23.7 acres), or roughly a fifth of the park’s total size – is the largest portion of land in their surplus list. City staff maintain the swath of land in question is underutilized and could better serve the public if it was redeveloped. The bulk of the park is in a flood plain, and would not be sold.

Does this not bring up the question of planning for future generations? Removing a park and constructing high-rise developments would be a heinous crime. I’m sure glad that Councillor John Gazzola is opposed to this idea, and he was quoted as saying, “I am opposed to selling any park land […] It makes no sense. You’ve got to look down the road 100 years from now. Once that park land is gone you are never getting it back.”

Jeff Willmer, the interim director of planning, said city workers must now cut the grass and pick up litter in these unused open spaces.

BOO HOO! Is this not why summer students are hired? If cutting grass and picking up litter are Jeff Wilmer’s idea of why the parkland should be sold off, he should be removed from office. He back’s up his statement by stating, “The development of the sites would create jobs and generate tax revenue.” Well duh! – any development of land would create jobs and generate tax revenues, but don’t remove park land!!! The justification is just not there.

I hope Kitchener’s council smartens up and sees that this is not the way to go about creating new development and spurring the economy out of its current slump.

Join the cause to save the park here: SaveKiwanisPark


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May 14, 2009 at 4:59 pm 1 comment

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