- On October 18, Stouffville’s Council will decide on Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments for FLATO’s interim commercial development proposal at the intersection of Highway 48 and Stouffville Road.
- A public meeting regarding the project took place on May 31, during which Council discussed the concept at length.
- While recognizing the opportunity to enhance and stimulate further development around Stouffville’s lacklustre western gateway, concerns arose over FLATO’s architectural designs and the limited utilization of the site.
- Requests were made to integrate heritage aesthetics and consider the inclusion of essential housing above the commercial ground floor.
- The revised proposal now features a heritage-themed brick design reminiscent of some elements of Newberry Button’s Ontario House Hotel, which occupied the site from 1868 until the 1970s.
- FLATO’s Planning Justification report, as discussed in a comprehensive Staff report, states that “storefront façade treatments, including the use of painted wood with copper details, tie the building to the historic design of buildings in Stouffville and create a distinguishable interim use as a gateway into the community.”
- “Additional building design elements, including the clocktower portion, chimney, and window shutter elements, also compliment the design of the building and represent a unique interim architectural gateway feature,” the report notes.
- While the buildings’ heights have increased from six metres to 12 metres, no new housing has been included within the revisions. The new design appears as a two-story structure, with only the ground-level commercial space being operational.
- Staff have also suggested a red brick gateway wall for the site celebrating the Ringwood hamlet. The wall features a depiction of the historic Ontario House Hotel.
As previously submitted, the development aims to provide commercial and restaurant spaces within two buildings. Two drive-throughs are also planned, along with two access points from Stouffville Road. In addition to their proposed interim use, FLATO has suggested a future six-story mixed-use development for the site.
Stouffville’s draft Official Plan, scheduled for Council approval next month, seeks upwards of 20 storeys in mixed-use development on the site, with a significant housing component. However, Planning Staff have raised concerns about the feasibility of such intensification. They noted that the size and configuration of the subject lands may limit larger-scale development, and land assembly or coordination with development of adjacent lands may be required to achieve such goals.
Councillor Sue Sherban, who led criticisms related to the lack of housing within the proposal at the Town’s public meeting, expressed her disappointment. “It is unfortunate that FLATO’s revision is not inclusive of the affordable rental apartment units I had hoped for,” she told Bullet Point News. “Yes, they added heritage features, but people don’t live in commercial units.”
Sherban emphasized Stouffville’s housing affordability challenges and stated that the project offers an ideal location and opportunity to deliver affordable units. “We are changing our Official Plan to meet the developer’s application instead of the developer adhering to our Official Plan vision,” she noted. “Yes, we are being promised redevelopment to meet those needs in the future, however affordable apartments above retail are perfect for this location and needed now.”
In the meantime, Staff are supportive of the updated interim proposal. They view it as means of revitalizing the Town’s western approach by activating the abandoned property, delivering an attractive building, and improving on the area’s streetscape. Staff also find the new architectural design to be more heritage-inspired than FLATO’s previous proposal, and the commercial uses would complement Stouffville’s limited employment tax base.