Village of East Fonthill development underway

The ground was broken for the Village of East Fonthill last Friday signfying the beginning of the development phase of a project that has had 25 years in the planning.

The ground was broken for the Village of East Fonthill last Friday signfying the beginning of the development phase of a project that has had 25 years in the planning.

A project that has been 25 years in the making became reality last Friday as dignitaries, elected officials and guests participated in a ground-breaking ceremony to celebrate the start of development of the Village of East Fonthill.

The approximately 50 acres of the East Fonthill Development is jointly owned by the Town of Pelham and Fonthill Gardens Inc.

The plan is for the development to include:  a medical facility, retirement residence, Wellspring Niagara Cancer Support Centre, commercial, retail and food establishments and a potential multi-faceted community centre and arena.

“This hasn’t always been the easiest development to get off the ground,” Town of Pelham CAO Darren Ottaway said to the crowd of people at the ceremony. “But the reason I think that we are so excited today is because of the phenomenal opportunity this represents for the community and the ability that, I believe, the Town of Pelham is going to have to raise the bar when it comes to urban design and urban development throughout the Niagara Region.”

“The other thing I love to bug the designers and engineers about is something called a woonerf,” he said. “When you look in the design, you will see in the centre of it a large urban square.”

“The urban square is a concept that is fairly well known in Europe,” he said. “Many of you that have travelled to Europe know that most communities have a piazza or centre square, and it’s a place where the community comes together.”

“These squares are not simply designated for the automobile, they’re planned for everybody. We’ve looked at these concepts and said ‘How can we incorporate them into this development’” he said.

“And by creating a woonerf, or what is easier known as a shared space, we’re not going to be putting in stop lights and stop signs and all the expensive infrastructure that the taxpayers have to pay for.” he said. “And then we have to go back and fix it because there’s complaints about speeding or it’s not safe for kids.”

“We said let’s turn that on its head and lets create a space where the vehicle and the pedestrian have to interact, both using their own intelligence,” he said.

“I think these concepts really set this development apart from a lot of other things that are happening,” he said. “We are really excited, I’m passionate about it.”

David Allen from developer Fonthill Gardens Inc. (part of the Allen Group) has partnered with the Town of Pelham in this development. Before Allen spoke, Ottaway had remarked how it was unique that the private sector and the public sector would partner on a project such as this.

“I really want to express our appreciation for the leadership and the cooperation we’ve received from council,” Allen said. “It hasn’t been an easy process, a lot of wrinkles to work out but I think everybody has tackled the job with the right frame of mind and we have a wonderful and unique relationship.”

From the drawing board to reality, developer David Allen of Fonthill Gardens Inc (part of the Allen Group) and Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn are happy to begin the development phase of the Village of East Fonthill.

From the drawing board to reality, developer David Allen of Fonthill Gardens Inc (part of the Allen Group) and Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn are happy to begin the development phase of the Village of East Fonthill.

“Thank you so much for joining us today for this historic moment for the Town of Pelham,” Mayor Dave Augustyn said. “Something 25 years in the making is becoming a reality today.”

“It’s wonderful to hear those noises of the vehicles (in the background construction vehicles were clearing the land) because of this thing being a reality,” he said.

“Starting today, a generation of thinking and planning will become months of action and construction,” he said.

“I would term the process to now to being something like a 25 year steeplechase,” he said. “With the finish line in sight.”

“Former Mayor Ralph Beamer, who couldn’t be here today, will attest that it took more than a decade to cross the first hurdle to get the Ontario Municipal Board approval to expand Pelham’s built boundary east of Station St. all the way to Rice Rd. and into this area called East Fonthill,” Augustyn said.

That decision occurred in 1999/2000.

The next obstacle, the OMB wanted more detailed planning which led to developing a secondary plan before development could proceed.

“That 2000-2003 council retained the services of Ron Palmer and a planning partnership to work together with the community and area developers to finalize the plan,” Augustyn said.

“The next council lead by former mayor Ron Leavens purchased the 32 acres of land at the corner of Regional Rd. 20 and Rice Rd.,” he said. “Their intention was to build a community recreational facility with some sports fields, etc.., and also to form a gateway feature for Pelham.”

“While I have been serving as mayor town council and I took some leadership on the secondary plan, and because of the exceptional staff and consulting resources, both planning and legal, we worked together with the development community, planning and public works staff at the Region, and the public, to complete this plan,” he said.

“So many of you who are here today played a part in getting us over that secondary plan hurdle with another Ontario Municipal Board decision in January of 2014,” he said. “And it’s gratifying for us that the plan was recognized earlier in 2015 with a Niagara Community Design Award in Urban Design and Architecture outline how good the plan is.”

“Then we overcame the next obstacle, by thinking more broadly. We erased the lines of ownership and thought not just about the town lands, the development lands, the commercial mix use lands, and how this new area would interact with the rest of the community,” Augustyn said. “That broader thinking is accentuated through the site master plan for these 50 acres of commercial public mixed used development.”

East Fonthill Quickfacts:

  • 50 acres.
  • Extends from Regional Rd. 20 (Hwy 20) along Rice Rd. to south of Merritt Road.
  • Calls for the development of a pedestrian and cyclist friendly community fully integrated to Downtown Fonthill and to existing neighbourhoods.
  • Includes a highly interconnected greenlands system.
  • Potential to incorporate 5,000 new residents over the next 20 years.
  • Intends to provide services and retailers for residents and visitors.
  • Centrally located in Niagara Region.

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