On November 24, 2017 staff provided an update to council on the City’s ongoing commercial policy review. This is a critical file for the East End of our city. It is the review staff and council need to inform updates to the official plan and justify decisions that can bring more equitable distribution of commercial lands to east Guelph. I encourage all who are interested to read the report here.
Based on my review, I’ve placed the report on the Committee of the Whole agenda for Monday January 15th for discussion. Further, in advance of the meeting, I posed the following questions to staff seeking clarity on the progress of the review and how the ongoing inequity in east Guelph is being considered. My questions and staff’s response are below.
Be sure to check back here following Monday’s meeting for further updates.
DATE: January 15, 2018
TO: Committee of the Whole
FROM: Todd Salter, General Manager
DIVISION: Policy Planning and Urban Design
DEPARTMENT: Planning, Urban Design and Building Services
SUBJECT: Response to Questions Regarding Commercial Policy Review: Stage 1 Commercial Analysis and Background
The Commercial Policy Review Stage 1 Commercial Analysis and Background Report was released on Friday November 24, 2017 as part of Information Report IDE-2017-130. The report provides information about the current policy context, retail trends, key stakeholder input, consumer research, and commercial supply and needs analysis completed by the project consultants. This memo responds to questions from Councillor Gibson, Chair of IDE Committee of the Whole. The questions are highlighted in bold with the responses in regular text.
1) What are the categories included in “commercial space”? Is it only retail or does the city include office space in this calculation?
“Commercial Space” includes retail and services. Services includes population serving offices like lawyers’ or accountants’ offices, but not “economic base” office like the Co-operators head office for example. The full list of the categories included in commercial is included on page 140 of Information Report IDE-2017-130 ATT-1 attached to this memo. The full report can be viewed at the following link: https://guelph.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017-130-Guelph-CPR-Stage-1-Attachment-1.pdf.
2) This update provides a macro level view of the current commercial lands and amenities landscape but does not speak to equity of distribution throughout the city (or specifically within wards). I’ll note, of the commercial nodes used in this research there was no mention of the Starwood/Watson node or any consideration of commercial nodes east of Stevenson. Will future updates look at distribution?
The Stage 1 report provides an inventory of what’s on the ground now and does not deal with the equitable distribution of space. The “nodes” that are included in this report and mapped on page 108 are for the purposes of inventorying existing commercial floor area and don’t align with the “Community Mixed Use Nodes” in the City’s Official Plan. Commercial space within the Starwood/Watson Node is included within the “Other Northeast Guelph” category because there is currently so little commercial space at Starwood/Watson. The issue of amount and location (i.e. geographic distribution) of commercial lands will be considered as part of the Stage 2 work, including the principles to be brought forward for Council endorsement in March 2018.
3) When the report reviews the commercial structure and supply in Guelph there is no analysis of a node east of Stevenson. When this update concludes the “current and potential supply of commercial space and land is sufficient to accommodate the demand for new commercial space to 2031,” does this speak to household satisfaction or equity of distribution? Are residents satisfied with access? Did the phone survey ask this question?
The Stage 1 report does not deal with the “equitable geographic distribution” of space. The work looked at the current inventory of space and lands, against population based needs. The commercial floor area east of Stevenson is included in the Other Northeast Guelph “node” for inventory purposes. The core of the consumer survey was factual, (e.g. what do you spend and where) and used primarily for defining Guelph’s trade area and “sales leakage” to other markets. It did not include opinion or satisfaction questions. This project is a land use study and Stage 2 focuses on developing a recommended commercial policy framework and includes the development of general commercial policies, land use designations (amount, location and policies) and zoning regulation directions based on Council endorsed preferred commercial policy framework. The policy alternatives developed as part of Stage 2 will consider the amount and location (i.e. geographic distribution) of commercial space.
4) Bottom of page 3 (Information Report IDE-2017-130). The supply analysis used data from the Downtown and GID Secondary Plans. This analysis assumes the GID lands will be fully built out by 2031?
The analysis assumes that half of the designated Mixed-use Corridor (GID) lands will be developed by 2031(100,000 sq. ft.) and the remaining lands will be developed by 2036. See Figure 3 on page vii of Information Report IDE- 2017-130 ATT-1.
5) Bottom of page 3 (Information Report IDE-2017-130). This update assumes that active development applications and undeveloped commercial lands would be developed to meet their “maximum” allowable commercial floor space area for areas designated commercial or mixed use. What assumptions are being made about the Starwood and Watson node in the future? What happens if “maximum allowable commercial floor space” isn’t realized? Most plans I’ve heard about are proposing far less than maximum which I believe is 150,000sq/ft. There is no minimum commercial floor space at Starwood and Watson correct?
For the Starwood/Watson node the maximum allowable commercial floor space permitted by the Zoning Bylaw is considered for the Loblaw Properties Limited site at 115 Watson Pkwy N. which is 126,995 sq. ft. (11,803 sq. m.). There is currently no minimum commercial floor space area established for any of the nodes. Stage 2 will consider commercial policy framework alternatives that address scenarios where designated sites are not developed to their maximum permitted floor space. The policy options will be developed in accordance with the vision and principles endorsed by Council and findings from the Stage 1 Commercial Analysis and Background Report. Stage 2 will also consider how to meet the City’s commercial needs including appropriate policy and regulatory mechanisms (e.g. zoning) to ensure planned function of key areas is achieved.
Figure 3 on page vii of Information Report IDE-2017-130 ATT-1 shows the timing of commercial space needs.
6) Page 5 (Information Report IDE-2017-130). There is sufficient undeveloped land out to 2031 (again does not speak to equity of distribution) but there are not enough sufficiently sized parcels available to accommodate traditional larger neighbourhood and community functioning retail developments that typically require at least 2.8 hectares. If the Starwood and Watson node does not come to fruition, where does the city propose these lands could come from east of Stevenson? I’ll note, the GID lands are south of the river off Victoria, Stone and College. This does not service neighborhoods northeast of York and Victoria. Will this policy review speak to the potential for amalgamating properties in order create new opportunities for commercial development in under serviced areas of the city? Again, speaking to equity of distribution.
Stage 2 will examine the need to designate additional commercial lands, including retail space, throughout the City to accommodate identified new space needs, and the suitability of the existing parcel fabric could be one consideration in this process. The City’s land use planning role is to ensure an appropriate amount of commercial lands are suitably designated and zoned in appropriate locations. This will facilitate private sector investment in commercial development, which may include parcel consolidation.
7) If Watson/Starwood is not built out to the maximum allowable floor space, how do we compensate for this loss of commercial space? Will future updates speak to this?
Stage 2 will explore this through the development of commercial policy framework alternatives including recommendations for policies, land use designations and zoning regulations. The policy alternatives will be developed in accordance with the vision and principles endorsed by Council and findings from the Stage 1 Commercial Analysis and Background Report.
Stage 2 of the Commercial Policy Review which commenced in Q4 2017 involves the following:
– Community engagement sessions to assist in the development of a commercial vision and principles for development to 2041 (Sessions held Nov. 29th, online survey closed Dec. 15th);
– Council endorsement of Vision and Principles in March 2018;
– Development of Commercial Policy Framework Alternatives (Q1/Q2 2018);
– Community Engagement on the Commercial Policy Framework Alternatives (Q1/Q2 2018); and
– Release and Council approval of a Preferred Commercial Policy Framework (Q2/Q3 2018).
Planning, Urban Design and Building Services
Planning, Urban Design and Building Services
Location: City Hall, 1 Carden St.
T 519.822.1260 x 2395
Memo authored by Joan Jylanne, Senior Policy Planner