PERTH – The Town of Perth may see its own public transportation system within the next 20 years.
With new subdivision projects on the horizon, the town is anticipating that the population will double in the next two decades, making some type of public transportation viable.
“It is not beyond the level of possibility that we may see some type of public transit, so we might as well get used to it,” said Eric Cosens, director of planning at the Town of Perth, during a presentation at the “Tools for Rural Housing Development,” conference at the Perth Civitan Club hall on Thursday, Feb. 7.
“It may sound far-fetched now,” he admitted. “(But) we are looking forward to seeing more development in the years to come.”
Thankfully, for Cosens, this fits in well with provincial mandates to “reduce the need for dependence on the automobile,” and “reduce (the) ecological footprint.”
A lot of that residential growth will come from the development of new subdivisions, but Cosens cautioned that “we’re going to be asking them (the developers) to demonstrate that they are provided for,” namely, some type of affordable housing in the larger subdivisions.
He added that the social housing does not necessarily have to be on-site in the development, but can be in the form of a contribution to a social housing development in the area.
“The more efficiently developers use their land, the more bang they will get for their infrastructure buck,” said Cosens, who stressed that he would like to see the downtown core, both business and residential, kept as walkable as possible.
One of the infrastructure improvements that will need to be addressed however before the buses (or trams, subways, what have you!) start running, or the houses start getting built, will be the expansion of lagoons.
“Depending on who you talk to, that is the $6 million to $20 million question,” said Cosens. He pointed out that the “old and leaky system,” is undergoing renovations of a sort to seal up older sections of sewer lines, which has resulted in 15 to 17 per cent recovery which, it is hoped, will free up five to seven years more of service to the lagoons.
“We hope that with this spring’s high water levels, (it will help us) to see if they have worked,” he said of the improvements. “We have to optimize what we have before we put more money into the ground.”
An environmental assessment will be done this year into expanding the system, “because, with our annexed land, we will have top increase capacity.”
Businesses have their part to play too, he pointed out, with efficiencies being encouraged amongst higher water user. How efficiently town industries are able to scale back their water usage will also affect how much longer the lagoons can last.
“You get some efficiencies out of our lagoons and try to get the most out of them,” said Cosens.
While the town is trying to get the maximum from its lagoon and sewer systems, it is also trying to make the most of its land too through intensification and using existing services wherever possible.
“It doesn’t have to feel like it is cramped,” said Cosens. “It’s not just wanting to cram people in. It is also more efficient. They (the province) want us to use what we have not broaden our footprint.”
Specifically, residential areas developed prior to 1976 will be targeted for intensification.
The conference was sponsored by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Author: Desmond Devoy