Base31’s developers presented their Area Concept Plan in support of an Official Plan Amendment application to about 60 residents at the Picton Community Centre last week.
County staff also presented the rationale for applying to the Housing Minister for a Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator (CIHA), an accelerated approvals process, for the first phase of the development.
The former Camp Picton’s developers are Tercot communities, Deco Communities, Rockport Group, and PEC Community Partners.
The accelerator application, if granted, will be restricted to the first 30-hectare phase of the project. It would see 100 units of rental housing on the site of the former military barracks, now called the Revitalization District, and a further 350 residences in the project’s first neighbourhood village, which will overlook Picton.
Stephen Willis, an urban planner with Stantec, and a consultant for the County, noted the Accelerator is a new tool established through the government’s Bill 109, the More Homes for Everyone Act (2022). “The county would use it to encourage early delivery on a small portion of the site devoted to heritage restoration and the creation of affordable housing of both rented and owned types.”
“The Applicant would have to comply with the zoning in the order, which will be much more mixed-use and of greater density than anything in the County today,” he noted.
At least 5 per cent of the project will be designated affordable. About 25 per cent of the first phase will consist of rental apartments, and the other homes will be a mix of townhome styles and condos.
The presentation sketched only in very general terms what the Base’s consortium of developers is proposing. The Area Concept Plan identifies only blocks for housing, open spaces, and major infrastructure, such as roads.
Everything else – details of housing styles, transportation routes, sustainable energy components, and the specific details of how the site’s heritage designation will be dealt with — remains to be seen.
Residents who attended the meeting were very clear about what they would like the project to incorporate. Multiple speakers stressed the need to connect Base31 to Picton Main Street. Ideas included a funicular, and continuously looping electric trolley.
Climate change over the 20-year period of the proposed development was also top of mind. Many speakers suggested geothermal heating and cooling, and the incorporation of “net zero” emissions building principles at every stage of the design and build.
“I would be very interested in a geothermally heated and cooled house to downsize into,” said one speaker from Wellington. “I cannot imagine a better sales pitch than that. If you are going to do it, you know, you should make sure everybody knows about it.”
Jack Winberg, CEO of Rockport Group, stressed that his company wants to build for the future, that it is committed to the former gunnery school’s heritage designation, and that it has no plans to build high-priced suburban sprawl.
“We like to think Rockport is future ready. We have used geothermal systems and technology in several large condominium projects. We just incorporated such technology into a retirement home in Unionville. These are not new concepts to us. We believe ourselves to be forward thinking, practical developers.”
A draft plan of the first phase will be ready for spring 2024. Residential construction would begin in 2025.
Further comments, questions, and suggestions emailed to County planner Michael Michaud (firstname.lastname@example.org) will form part of the public record.