Innovative Developments Needed!

Innovative Developments Needed!

I had the opportunity to check out the opening launch for Warbler Place Urban Village in Welland.  And can I just say WOW!

One of the big issues our city faces is Housing, Affordability & Density and I have said that we need to advocate for innovative ways of encouraging more housing and density that will create more affordable housing while maintaining the character of our neighbourhoods.  We need developments like Warbler Place in St. Catharines.

Warbler Place Urban Village, designed by Better Neighbourhoods – a St.Catharines urban design company, is a Master-Planned neighbourhood is based on international best practices  and is Niagara’s first Mixed Master Use Community.

Warbler Place is taking 458,000 square feet of asphalt and 130,000 square feet of surplus building and turning it into 1300 new homes – rentals and owned – beside a shopping mall and creating $400 million dollars of increased tax assessments. A win-win-win for residents, the city and the business community.

When the Toth Group was planning the development, the goal was to create a walkable community, with different types of housing (studios, 1 and 2 bed, townhouses) that are available for rentals, rent to own and purchasing.  They wanted a community less reliant on cars and looked at how close the daily amenities are in a 5 minute and 10 minute walk.

They focused on street and landscapes.  Cars will be parked in back on laneways, leaving the front for trees, porches and safe walkable streets.

They have partnered with Kite Mobility to provide residents ebike and escooter sharing services and SmartOne – a Canadian company – to provide the latest smart home technology to all residents.

Seaway Mall, a partner in the development, is also looking at how it can better serve the entire community of Welland and the new residents to Warbler Place.  Along with shopping and restaurants, currently the Seaway Mall has a public library, a farmers market, a youth recreation centre, Welland SPCA Cat Adoption Centre, a career and employment centre, Welland SPCA Cat Adoption Centre, EarlyON Centre Family Centre and the Niagara Catholic District School Board’s Niagara Launch Centre that give students hands on trades training.  The mall sees itself as more than a shopping mall – it is a community hub.  With all the new residents coming to Warbler Place, the team at Seaway Mall is looking to add more doctors, chiropractors and other health services.

We CAN do the same here in St. Catharines and we MUST.  We have acres and acres of asphalt at our shopping malls, strip malls and along our commercial corridors.  These are the areas we should focus developments so we can retain our established neighbourhoods.  The infrastructure is already there. Our main transit routes already travel down these roads and to these malls that would allow residents to leave their cars at home to travel to work, appointments and shopping.

We also must work to attract innovative developers to our city who put residents at the centre of their designs and do all they can to help create communities that people love to live in and will keep them healthy.