A plan to finish widening 208th Street and other roads in need of expansion in Willoughby will be pitched by Councillor Eric Woodward at next week’s Township council meeting.
Woodward released the plan through Facebook and is sending it out to his fellow councillors this week, in advance of an expected debate next Monday.
The issue is that parts of 208th – as well as 80th Avenue, 200th Street, 202A near R.E. Mountain Secondary, and portions of several other roads – are being widened and upgraded only as development proceeds.
Local residents have complained for years that this means 208th Street abruptly widens and contracts between two, three, and four lanes at various points between 68th Avenue and the overpass in the north.
It also means that sidewalks start and stop, or are only built down one side of certain streets.
“There is currently no prospect of development completing 208th Street between 68th Avenue and 76th Avenue due to the Smith Neighbourhood Plan not yet [being] underway,” Woodward wrote in a memo. “As the situation sits today, with development applications not even being contemplated for both sides this corridor, it could be 10-plus years before this section of 208th Street is completed without policy reform, significant depletion of the DCC [development cost charges] program, or unacceptable property tax increases.”
Buying the road frontages and building 208th to its full expected width would cost in the tens of millions of dollars.
Woodward’s plan to deal with the issue is to create a new Willoughby Arterial Road Completion Amenity Policy.
Amenity funds already exist in the Township and many other communities. Developers pay into them for things such as greenways in the nearby neighbourhoods.
There are about 1,400 developable acres available for building in Willoughby, Woodward’s memo said.
As more lots are developed, more money would flow into the fund. Instead of simply getting developers with frontage on major roads to build upgrades, it would spread the burden to all properties being developed in the area.
Once it’s set up, even before there is significant money collected through the policy, the Township could borrow to begin to deal with some of the gaps in the completed road network, Woodward suggested. The borrowing would be paid back through the fund.
He said he hasn’t included the amount the amenity fund would charge developers, because he doesn’t want to throw out a number before Township staff have had a chance to take a look at the idea.
He also mentions the same idea could be tried in Brookswood-Fernridge, which could see significant development in the near future.
“The opportunity in Fernridge is different,” Woodward said.
“We are going to end up inevitably with the same kind of missing gaps in the road network,” he noted. Putting in a road amenity policy early would help cut down on that issue from the start.
“Development must pay for development,” Woodward says in his memo.