Recent Posts

Trees are part of the City infrastructure that need maintenance and investment

Posted on September 09, 2016

Urban forests in Greater Toronto area increasingly stressed, new report says

 

Development, climate change, invasive pests, violent storms are wreaking havoc on trees in region

 

Muriel Draaisma · CBC News - June 2, 2016

Janet McKay, chair of Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition, says urban forests in the Greater Toronto Area are facing "increased stresses" and she is calling on governments to spend on trees in the same way that they spend on roads and bridges. Trees are a vital, green resource that provide urban dwellers with many benefits, she said. (CBC)

 

 

To read the article in its entirety, visit: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/toronto/programs/metromorning/urban-forest-crisis-1.3612295

 

The public sector must continue to lead through action

Posted on April 08, 2015

Both the public and private sectors have a role to play in realizing revitalization goals and objectives, especially in downtown areas.  The public sector has to lead the way by showing an obvious commitment to change by investing in the quality of the public realm.  This is especially true in the early stages of redevelopment, where the onus will be on the public sector to show new direction and to provide evidence of a lasting commitment to the adaptation of a downtown into a diverse, high quality, pedestrian-friendly district.  The “public realm” is all public streets, uses and open spaces – including streetscapes, gateways, views and visual character, pedestrian amenity and comfort and public art.  Public Sector commitments are most commonly in the form of streetscape and servicing upgrades.  Construction of larger-scale public institutional projects can also make effective use of public money – i.e. best bang for the buck – and serve as a catalyst for further change beyond the original purpose behind the institutional project.  Private development initiatives can be expected only in response to a demonstrated commitment of the public initiative.  RFA understands the challenges and complexities involved with redevelopment of downtown spaces.  It is also important to focus on a concentrated area and ensure that all actions are co-ordinated to the extent possible.


Watermark on the Bay Subdivision

Posted on August 12, 2014

Location: Village of Rossmore, Prince Edward County
Client: Stewart O'Brien, 1470757 Ontario Inc. & Evelyn Scott
Date: 2011-2014

  • Planner and project co-ordinator for a 44-lot, residential subdivision in the Village of Rossmore, Prince Edward County, on the Bay of Quinte
  • Prepared Concept Plan layout options to illustrate various forms of servicing and for various housing types
  • Final Draft Plan includes a local park and trails
  • The surrounding provincially-significant wetland and on-site archaeological resources were successful resolved permitting the approvals to be completed
  • Co-ordinated work of consultant team and responsible for overall planning and approvals including draft plan of subdivision, official plan amendment, rezoning and co-ordination with agency approval authorities


Cobourg Shell Development

Posted on August 11, 2014

Location: 1154 Division Street at Densmore Road, Cobourg
Client: 2275048 Ontario Inc.
Date: 2013-2014

  • Planner for a redevelopment project within the Hull’s Corners gateway planning area in the Town of Cobourg
  • Prepared Concept Plan layout options for the redevelopment of an existing fuel station (tenant to be Shell Canada) and intensification of the site with a restaurant with double-order drive-through
  • Co-ordinated work of consultant team through the planning approvals process
  • Prepared comprehensive Urban Design Report to satisfy Cobourg landscape and design guidelines.

365 SP (January 30, 2015)
365 VMP (January 30, 2015)
Shell Landscape Feb 3
Cobourg Shell Building Renderings SK1, SK2, SK3 1
Cobourg Shell Building Renderings SK1, SK2, SK3 2
Cobourg Shell Building Renderings SK1, SK2, SK3 3

COUNCIL PRESENTATION: DOWNTOWN SOUTH REDEVELOPMENT PLAN, MAY 12, 2014

Posted on May 13, 2014

1) Purpose of Presentation

a) To clarify certain matters about which there appears to be some confusion.

b) To be very clear to Council and the public as to what we require in order to proceed with the development.

c) To answer questions that members of Council may have.

2) Future of Farmer’s Market

• There was a story circulating that it was our intent to significantly change or even dislodge the farmer’s market from George Zegouras Market Square.

• Our intent and hope is that the farmer’s market not only stay at Market Square but indeed expand and grow due to an increase in marketing opportunities.

• In addition, we do not have any concerns if the farmer’s market were to expand into the former Memorial Arena.

• Our only suggestion was to remove the buses from Market Square so that it is safer for pedestrians.

3) Future of the former Memorial Arena

• Our greatest concern with this building is that it is not currently being used, and the siting of this building does not lend itself to easy conversion to alternative uses.

• While we feel there is potential for it to be used as a marketplace, it is more important to us that the building simply be used even if that were for an ice arena.

• Further, by having the Police Headquarters across the road from the Memorial, the potential of attracting a private investor would be enhanced.

• We believe that by taking decisive and specific action the future of this building can be secured.

4) Transit Operations

• We believed the idea of operating transit out of and adjacent to the former Memorial Arena had merit, but we have come to appreciate that for the long term viability and heath of transit operations, the transit transfer facility should ideally be located further north.

• While we would have no specific issue with any site determined by the City as meeting the needs of transit services, we believe that in the short to medium term, locating transit transfer operations along both sides of Pinnacle Street between Campbell and Victoria Streets would be a viable option, for the following reasons:

o This site is further north and would help in achieving improved efficiency for transit operations to the north.

o This area could be developed to provide transit transfer operations relatively easily at minimal expense to the City.

o There are minimal on-street parking that would be displaced; these are not among the more desirable parking spaces in the downtown.

o The location for transit would be very close to the heart of the downtown.

o The library building could be used to provide support services for transit.

o There is a signalized cross-walk on Pinnacle Street to allow transit users to safely cross the street.

o On-street transit transfer operations are successful in many Cities.

5) What the Developer Needs from the City

• Doing the Century Place development is a risky venture given that we are planning to put badly needed residential condominiums in the heart of the downtown, in an area that is generally not considered a premium location for quality residential construction.

• To reduce that risk, we need to create the impression that the downtown is much safer than it is now, and its environs are appropriate for residential uses.

• That is why we are proposing the Police Headquarters be located on the City-owned lands on the east side of Pinnacle opposite the former Memorial Arena.

• In its own right, we believe this site is an excellent location for the Police Headquarters, superior to other sites being considered.

• Further, developing this site for the Police Headquarters is likely to be less expensive overall than other sites due to land acquisition and development costs; in our estimation perhaps as much as $3 million – money that can be allocated to helping further secure the future of downtown Belleville.

• We know that putting the police building on this property displaces the transit operation, but we believe that other, and frankly more suitable locations for transit over the long term, can be found, and we have proposed a plausible solution that we believe can work in the short to medium term.

• We understand that there may be concerns among the Councilors regarding the cost of building a parking garage in the short term. We appreciate why this may be a concern for Council. We are willing to take a different approach to addressing the issue of parking. We have ideas that we would be prepared to discuss with the City that would replace the parking lost by the police building, over the short term, without the necessity of a parking garage. This would give us and the City, along with the downtown, time to develop solutions to parking that would address the needs of the downtown over the long run, which may or may not necessarily involve constructing a parking garage.

• In short, what we require from the City is the location of the Police Headquarters in the downtown on the east side of Pinnacle, and a commitment to work with the developer to find a short term solution to parking needs, and the willingness in the future to work with the developer to devise long term solutions to downtown parking issues.

6) Visioning

• Council has taken bold steps to deal with the City’s infrastructure deficit and to develop a vision for renewal of the downtown.

• While we have not stated here today that some of those ideas contained in your plan for downtown need to be done immediately to facilitate this development, we want to strongly emphasize to Council that it must not abandon the vision for downtown it has developed.

• Components such as upgrades to George Zegouras Market Square and the removal of the HR building, and others – these were not OUR ideas – but we would hope that in time the City will proceed to implement them because doing so will ensure downtown renewal and revitalization is fostered and allowed to build momentum.

NEWS RELEASE: DOWNTOWN SOUTH REDEVELOPMENT PLAN, MAY 5, 2014

Posted on May 06, 2014

Developer behind the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan:

• Adrian Bax, well known in the Quinte region for undertaking high quality and successful residential development projects since 1998, is the developer behind the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan.

• Adrian Bax’s development projects in Belleville are the Harbour Landing and Bayfront Walk townhouses on South Front Street, Settler’s Ridge subdivision on Maitland Drive, as well as the Potter’s Creek and Cascade Glen subdivisions. In Quinte West he developed the Settlers Landing, Brookshire Meadows and Oak Ridge Estates subdivisions.

• RFA Planning Consultant Inc. has provided the professional land use planning services for all of these projects undertaken by Adrian Bax over the past 16 years.

Formulation of the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan:

• It was because of the Build Belleville initiative for the Downtown and the Bay of Quinte Region Living Council that Adrian Bax began to focus his attention on identifying a Downtown development opportunity; he shares the viewpoint of many that a healthy downtown core is essential to the growth of the region.

• Adrian Bax studied other sites in Downtown that could address the housing needs for up to 100 dwelling units. These other sites ultimately proved not to be economically viable; however Century Place showed potential.

• The Downtown South Redevelopment Plan was originally formulated in the 2012 Intensification Plan prepared for the City of Belleville by RFA Planning Consultant. The Plan is bounded by Bridge Street, Moira River, Dundas Street and Pinnacle Street.

• This area forms a major gateway to the Downtown with potential for redevelopment for residential, commercial and office uses. The City owns a significant portion of property in this area.

• Working with RFA Planning Consultant, the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan was updated, focusing on Century Place and the former Intelligencer property.

• The Redevelopment Plan is directed on the many improvements required to the south portion of the Downtown that are necessary in order to build an attractive anchor and gateway into the Downtown from the Bayfront and Dundas Street.

• On April 14th, Adrian Bax with support from RFA Planning Consultant Inc. provided City Council with a presentation of the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan.

• On April 29th, the main components of the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan were released publicly for the purpose of providing the public an opportunity to discuss and debate the ideas behind the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan.

• The developer elected not to reveal his identity at this stage, in hopes of having public discussion and debate focus specifically on the merits of the Redevelopment Plan.

• While widespread discussion has occurred, debate appears to have stalled on the question of who the developer is rather than the merits of the ideas contained in the Redevelopment Plan.

• Adrian Bax decided it would be wise to identify himself as the developer at this time, to enable public discussion and debate to again focus on the merits of the Redevelopment Plan, and in hopes of encouraging more private sector investors to step forward.

Response to Key Questions Raised in Public Debate:

• The necessity of locating the new Police Headquarters in the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan:

o The Police Headquarters would be a significant investment in the Downtown, bringing more employees into the immediate area on a daily basis. These employees will bring more business to local restaurants and shops, and may even wish to live within the Downtown.

o The proposed site for the Police Headquarters, which is already owned by the City, would serve the needs of the entire community and the needs of the Police Service very well.

o Locating the Police Headquarters on the proposed site will be more cost effective than other locations currently under consideration; the City will realize more critical community assets by locating the Police Headquarters on the site identified in the Redevelopment Plan.

o Locating the Police Headquarters Downtown would significantly reduce the public perception that Downtown is not conducive to the development of residential condominiums; along with improvements to public amenities in the Downtown, a positive quality of life environment would be created which is essential for the future prosperity of the Downtown.

o Adding another new important building to the Downtown, such as the Police Headquarters would enhance the visual appeal of the area. The existing transit terminal could be repurposed as a public atrium within the new Headquarters.

• Memorial Marketplace:

o Any building that is not occupied or used will deteriorate quickly. Since the former Memorial Arena building is critically important to the identity of Belleville, the developer believes it is essential that a new use be identified and the building be repurposed as quickly as possible.

o Locating the Police Headquarters across the street from the Memorial and the development of new residential condominiums nearby creates an opportunity for the Memorial to be converted to a marketplace that would include grocery and other food related uses. These types of uses are important if the City wishes to see more residential development in the Downtown. Nevertheless, the developer believes it is more important that the building be used rather than how it is used; if the City were to decide to re-invest in the building as an ice arena, the developer would fully support that decision.

• Relocating the City bus terminal:

o With Memorial Arena being developed as a market place, the integration of transit with commercial uses can be achieved, and doing so would make the redevelopment of Memorial more successful.

o The proposed design includes a separate bus lane, lay-bys and terminal on the west side of Pinnacle Street next to the Memorial.

o Locating transit services at the Memorial is not essential to the success of the Redevelopment Plan. If the City identifies another location that would be more conducive to the successful operation of transit, the developer would fully support locating transit services in that other location.

o Removing the buses from Market Street will be safer for pedestrians and allow the Market Square to be programmed for more events.

Response to Key Questions Raised in Public Debate:

• The necessity of locating the new Police Headquarters in the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan:

o The Police Headquarters would be a significant investment in the Downtown, bringing more employees into the immediate area on a daily basis. These employees will bring more business to local restaurants and shops, and may even wish to live within the Downtown.

o The proposed site for the Police Headquarters, which is already owned by the City, would serve the needs of the entire community and the needs of the Police Service very well.

o Locating the Police Headquarters on the proposed site will be more cost effective than other locations currently under consideration; the City will realize more critical community assets by locating the Police Headquarters on the site identified in the Redevelopment Plan.

o Locating the Police Headquarters Downtown would significantly reduce the public perception that Downtown is not conducive to the development of residential condominiums; along with improvements to public amenities in the Downtown, a positive quality of life environment would be created which is essential for the future prosperity of the Downtown.

o Adding another new important building to the Downtown, such as the Police Headquarters would enhance the visual appeal of the area. The existing transit terminal could be repurposed as a public atrium within the new Headquarters.

• Memorial Marketplace:

o Any building that is not occupied or used will deteriorate quickly. Since the former Memorial Arena building is critically important to the identity of Belleville, the developer believes it is essential that a new use be identified and the building be repurposed as quickly as possible.

o Locating the Police Headquarters across the street from the Memorial and the development of new residential condominiums nearby creates an opportunity for the Memorial to be converted to a marketplace that would include grocery and other food related uses. These types of uses are important if the City wishes to see more residential development in the Downtown. Nevertheless, the developer believes it is more important that the building be used rather than how it is used; if the City were to decide to re-invest in the building as an ice arena, the developer would fully support that decision.

• Relocating the City bus terminal:

o With Memorial Arena being developed as a market place, the integration of transit with commercial uses can be achieved, and doing so would make the redevelopment of Memorial more successful.

o The proposed design includes a separate bus lane, lay-bys and terminal on the west side of Pinnacle Street next to the Memorial.

o Locating transit services at the Memorial is not essential to the success of the Redevelopment Plan. If the City identifies another location that would be more conducive to the successful operation of transit, the developer would fully support locating transit services in that other location.

o Removing the buses from Market Street will be safer for pedestrians and allow the Market Square to be programmed for more events.

• The Need for Urgency:

o There is a short window of opportunity available to the City and to the developer; real estate offers and agreements of purchase and sale are valid for 90 days.

o Details of the Redevelopment Plan were first presented to City Council on April 14th; the developer believes that while time lines are tight, there is sufficient time to fully assess the Redevelopment Plan’s merits, undertake due diligence by both the City and the developer, and finalize an agreement.

o The developer is not prepared to waive conditions to purchase the two key properties (Century Place and the former Intelligencer property) without a commitment from the City to participate in the joint initiative set out in the Redevelopment Plan.

Evaluation of the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan:

• The Downtown South Redevelopment Plan represents a series of ideas that are linked together to achieve a specific outcome, using both public and private investment – this is an opportunity to collectively realize greater success than the parties could achieve independently.

• No single component is sufficient to fix all of the problems facing Downtown Belleville; the collection of initiatives contained in the Redevelopment Plan, if occurring simultaneously, would have a greater chance of creating the momentum needed to rectify the issues facing Downtown.

• Additional investigative work will be required to address key outstanding questions (i.e. costs, logistics, timing); the developer is not prepared to commit to the project until these questions are addressed, and does not expect the City to do so; the developer views this process of due diligence as a joint investigative process.

• The developer wishes to ascertain whether the City is interested in the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan before investing significant effort in addressing these questions.

Information and Questions:

RFA Planning Consultant Inc. 613-966-9070

NEWS RELEASE: Downtown South Redevelopment Plan

Posted on April 30, 2014

Who We Are:

• RFA Planning Consultant Inc. of Belleville has been engaged by a private land development team to assist in devising the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan

• The principals of the planning team are:

o Ruth Ferguson-Aulthouse, President of RFA Planning Consultant Inc.

o Stephen Hyndman, Senior Associate of RFA Planning Consultant Inc.

• The private development team is currently active within the Belleville area and has an excellent track record of undertaking and producing high quality and successful land developments in the Quinte region

Major Components of the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan:

• The Downtown South Redevelopment Plan would involve two major players:

o The private development team

o The City of Belleville

• The Plan would be implemented through the use of what could be characterized as a 3P – a Public Private Partnership

• The private development team is proposing a 3P approach in order to be successful; the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan would require the participation of both the City and the private sector in a cooperative manner

• The key elements of the Downtown South Redevelopment Plan include the following:

o Private development team has accepted offers to purchase Century Place and the former Intelligencer building

o Century Place would be completely redeveloped and refurbished by the private development team, with the upper 2 or 3 floors redeveloped into 30 to 45 residential condominiums and the lower floors continuing as commercial, with a total investment expected to exceed $7 million

o The new City Police Headquarters building would be located on the east side of Pinnacle Street on the City owned lands currently occupied by a municipal parking lot and by the bus station – this site, including the existing municipal HR office building, is 3 acres in size and is of sufficient size to accommodate a police headquarters building of 40,000 to 50,000 square feet with parking for 150 vehicles

o The former Intelligencer building would be demolished and a new 4 level parking garage providing 200 parking spaces would be constructed on this site, with financial participation of both the City and the private development team – we have suggested the creation of a Parking Authority model to manage and oversee all parking in the downtown

o Under this Plan the transit transfer operation (bus station) would be relocated to the west side of Pinnacle Street adjacent to the former Memorial Arena, with support services for transit operations located in the former Memorial Arena – we recognize that other locations within the downtown would also be appropriate for this use and support its location wherever the City feels the best level of service could be provided

o The City owned office building located on the east side of Pinnacle Street immediately south of the Armories would be demolished and in its place public green space with surface parking would be constructed – office space for City use would be provided in Century Place

o George Zegouras Market Square (including Market and Macannany Streets) would be redeveloped into a flexible pedestrian plaza as proposed by the Build Belleville project

o (while not a formal part of the proposal) the redevelopment of the former Memorial Arena into a Memorial Marketplace which would support an increased number of people living and working within this area of the City (we recognize that as an alternative, the City may wish to retain its role as an ice arena, which does not conflict with the vision of this Plan)

Key Aspects of this Proposal:

• Public money will only be spent on public amenities that would be available to and accessible by all citizens of Belleville

• Private funds will be spent on re-invigorating Century Place, and in assisting with the construction of the parking garage

• It is our desire to attract additional private investment into the Downtown and we believe that this Plan will support that. We are building on the Build Belleville initiative, and creating a positive investment environment.

• The site assigned to the new Police Headquarters is, in our opinion, an excellent location as it is:

o in close proximity to City Hall

o located on lands already owned by the City

o unlikely to present any development challenges (i.e. due to soil contamination)

o located in the downtown which we believe is the preferred location for a police headquarters

o accessible to two major streets

o of sufficient size to meet current and future needs of the Police Service

• It is becoming more common to integrate transit transfer operations with existing commercial operations rather than housing them in stand-alone facilities – a new transit transfer site in the downtown that is fully integrated with the commercial fabric of the downtown will be good for both the transit service and for the downtown

• A revitalized George Zegouras Market Square would greatly enhance its use as a public entertainment venue, made much safer by the removal of buses from using Market Street.

Next Steps:

• We have presented this Plan to City Council, the Mayor’s Task Force and the New Police Building Steering Committee who have asked City staff to prepare a report to Council on the merits of proceeding, which will be presented to Council in the next 2 to 3 weeks for a decision on whether to develop a 3P agreement

• If Council elects to proceed, the City and the private development team would finalize a formal 3P agreement, following which development would commence. Development is expected to occur on a phased basis over a number of years, the details of which would be set out in the 3P agreement.

Information and Questions:

RFA Planning Consultant Inc. 613-966-9070


Intensifying our City Centres

Posted on February 12, 2014

It is a matter of interest of the Province of Ontario to intensify our urban areas and create more compact cities.  The Provincial Policy Statement defines Intensification as development of a property, site or area at a higher density than currently exists through redevelopment, development of vacant and/or underutilized lots, infill development and expansion or conversion of existing buildings.

 

In tangible terms, it has been proven that intensifying our city centres with a critical mass of residential uses promotes a more vibrant and successful downtown core.  Compact cities also contribute to a more sustainable future with respect to energy, land and materials use.

 

We have successfully undertaken numerous intensification projects – including brownfield redevelopment, residential infill and building conversion projects.  We understand the challenges involved with developing vacant or underutilized properties, such as addressing concerns of surrounding residents and meeting the objectives of the client.


Image Source: Downtown Belleville Master Plan, 2006

Welcome to RFA Planning Consultant Inc.

Posted on September 12, 2013

Sustainable development largely involves human land use and development and is defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

- United Nations. 1987. Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development.

At RFA Planning Consultant Inc., our goal is to foster progressive sustainable development by creating attractive liveable communities.

This is the first of a discussion series related to city planning best practices. Future topics will include: benefits of compact cities and urban intensification; public transit and active transportation; benefits of a downtown student population; and more.

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