By: Laura Steiner
Milton’s downtown could look a lot different if local developers have their way. Jens Nielsen, and Brad Clements have brought forward a plan for a pair of condo towers along Mill St containing 190 units combined. The first tower is 18 storeys, and the second is a 13-storey tower. The plans were unveiled earlier this month at a public meeting hosted by the Town Of Milton.
The developers’ goal is to help rejuvenate downtown Milton. “If you look across Southern Ontario small towns, the ones that bring people into the core of the town survive, the ones that keep the people out die.” Nielsen said. He cited several examples including neighbouring Burlington Ontario. “They brought in literally thousands of people to the area,” he described. The development in Milton would include two floors of retail and some public parking and according to Nielsen would have approximately 500 people living there.
The project isn’t without its obstacles. Current height restrictions for building in that area are between 4-7 storeys. At 18, and 13-storeys the towers violate the zoning rules. The developers are filing for a zoning change in order to build higher buildings. The towers combine for a total of 190 units.
A significant portion on the south side of Main St is on top of a flood plain. That designation affects what can be built in that area, and subjects new developments to additional approval processes through Conservation Halton. The developers believe they’ve found a way around it. “From an engineering point-of-view, from a security point-of-view, from protection criteria we have solved all of those problems,” Nielsen said. Mill Pond is located north of the proposed development at a slightly higher elevation.
The province changed its planning policies in 2014 in order to streamline the development process. Municipal now staff have a period of 180 days to examine, and make recommendations on a completed plan. “We declared it complete January 12, 2016,” Director of Planning Barb Koopmans described. There is a list of documents, and drawings required in order for it to be declared completed. According to Koopmans this developer submitted over a period of a few months.
“We made an application based on an old policy. And the policy and the application were accepted by Conservation Halton based on our engineering, and discussions,” Nielsen said. Their plans would still require council’s approval.
There are heritage concerns as well. The address of the proposed condominium is 175 Main St. The plans require three buildings to be demolished for an entrance including 171 Main St. The building once used as the livery for the Thompson hotel is considered by some to be part of the area’s heritage. The developers have agreed to reflect the heritage in elements of the building. “Just incorporating architectural elements from one single building wont come close to mitigating the damage this will do to this historic district,” Jennifer Smith said in an email.
Smith is a part of a group opposing the development “Save Old Milton.” She worries the condo towers will dwarf the Main St streetscape. “This building is so tall, and so close to Main St it will completely overshadow the whole street- literally and figuratively,” Smith said. For more information on this development, including technical reports visit the Town of Milton’s website