By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The new urban intensification targets proposed by the province have local residents seeing red, and some Tooley Road inhabitants are gearing up in case push comes to shove.
“People need space,” says Halina Workman, a resident of Tooley Road, a quiet street in Courtice located slightly east of Townline Road. “We’ve got land, so why intensify in one little area?”
The land Workman is talking about is the wide swaths of land previously used for farming that could soon fall under the backhoe as Durham Region continues to expand.
Behind her home on Tooley Road sits a thin strip of green space filled with trees that have been there for decades and could once again be under the microscope for future development.
The Municipality of Clarington has devised plans for the area in the past – however, none of them have come to fruition. Currently, residents say work is underway to have services such as water and sewer installed along the road and supplied to homes. It is something they see as an omen for future development.
Request for comment from Clarington staff were not returned as of The Oshawa Express’ press deadline.
If the province pushes ahead with its plans to change Ontario’s official growth plans, the area behind Tooley Road would be a prime target.
Under proposed new regulations, Ontario cities will be forced to have 60 per cent of new development occur within its built boundary, up from the current 40. This will force cities to rely more heavily on infill projects instead of the wide subdivision expansions like those occurring in Oshawa’s north end.
The changes are part of a review initiated last year by the province, which is looking at updating the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan.
Among the changes – which include building greener communities, dealing with ailing infrastructure and improving transit – the most contentious issues have been the intensification targets, which also includes the target of greenfield development being built to accommodate 80 people and jobs per hectare, up from the current 50.
For those on Tooley Road, residents say it would be a shame to see the greenery lost to development.
“It’s just a crime to see stuff like that just ripped down to build houses,” says Justin Kennedy. “When you go and clearcut forest and that, that just doesn’t make sense.”
The sentiment was shared by another concerned resident who wished not to be named in this story.
“It doesn’t make sense to me when you cut down trees and take our oxygen and our nature away. You need to leave pockets.”
While no plans are currently in place for the area, the different chunks of land behind the homes on Tooley are owned by a series of developers, residents say. Most recently, a large chunk of land along the road was approved for a development of nine houses and 68 townhouses.
The residents, who had nothing but kind words for those in Clarington’s planning department, hope the new development ends there.
“They’ve been very, very good, very understanding, tons of meetings with us,” says resident Bill Peeters. “But it’s not their decision.”