Development and housing were key themes of Tuesday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting in Smiths Falls. Graham Bird, president of the GBA group brought a presentation to council on the development of the Gallipeau Centre. The Gallipeau Centre, formerly the Rideau Regional Centre, contains over 900 000 square feet of existing buildings. These buildings include residences, offices, a pool, theatre, and gymnasium, among others.
The redevelopment objective is to create a vision for the site in a collaborative manner: to integrate the Gallipeau Centre into the mainstream of the town. This would involve creating a series of streets and homes that reflect existing neighbourhoods which would be developed in phases over a 15 year period. This would also include developing the Rideau Canal along the eastern edge of town, linking the Centre with the industrial park, and expanding a neighbourhood around the Gallipeau Centre that would fit into the town’s current neighbourhoods. Essentially, GBA is proposing a massive construction project: building a neighbourhood that fits into the large space around the Gallipeau Centre, while maintaining and maximizing its beauty and history.
Councillor Dwyer asked, “How many residential units are you proposing at this stage?” While noting that the number is approximate, Bird replied “about 1500-1800 over the 15 year [development period].” Mayor Pankow pointed out that Smiths Falls’ typical growth has been 9 units built in a year; lately we are up to a booming 25 units per year: Bird’s proposal would see 100 units built per year.
Councillor Dwyer pointed out that the aging infrastructure currently in place at the Gallipeau Centre wouldn’t be suited to support this much growth. Bird replied that their development plan includes phasing, which would mean developing existing assets first before tackling undeveloped lands, and adjust the plan to meet affordability and need over time.
Councillor Alford noted that this is the last large piece of land within the town limits, and that this proposed development would add value to our town. “This is an exciting project, let’s continue down this road,” enthused Councillor Brennan. CAO Morris noted that there is a lot to do to see this come to fruition, and “this is a long road … and a transformational project. We’ll come back with a road map and time frames.” In a nod to Smiths Falls’ hope-filled slogan, Councillor McGuire remarked that it will be exciting to see how this vision will rise at the Falls.