Teron Road Development Update

At yesterday’s city council meeting, the proposed development at 1131 Teron Road was debated. It was originally on the planning committee’s docket two weeks ago, but it was decided that it would be tabled for two weeks while the founder of Beaverbrook, Bill Teron, could come up with a design that, well, he liked.

Two days ago, Teron presented his vision to the planning committee.

Of course, Teron isn’t a resident of Beaverbrook. He’s not the mayor of Kanata. And he’s not some noble lord who oversees a fiefdom a few kilometers west along the 417. But at city hall, he still holds considerable sway.

The only picture of Teron’s proposal that I saw was an aerial shot. Aerial shots can look pretty, and developers get to make pretty designs on a macro level, but they’re close to useless. No one uses or experiences a neighbourhood from the air. We experience from street level. So, without such a view, I cannot pass judgement on Teron’s proposal.

I will, however, pass judgement on Teron’s argument. First off, he should be afforded no special treatment by council, though he is. The maximum speaking time is supposed to be five minutes. Teron blew right through that, speaking for 15 minutes (to council’s credit, they allowed the developer to speak for 15 minutes, as well). There was a time Teron was a stakeholder in Beaverbrook, but no longer.

(Note: regardless of the merits of his proposal, it is laudable that Teron still cares this much about Beaverbrook.)

Next, the very basis of his argument undercuts his credibility on the matter. Teron continued to press the notion that the development should adhere to his vision of Kanata as a Garden City. But Kanata is not a Garden City. Garden Cities are self-sustaining. They were conceptualized to allow the working class a pleasant place to live. The green space around the city was to be used for agriculture to help feed the city.

Kanata is a garden suburb. It is the antithesis of the garden city. Kanata is not self-sustaining; despite some industry, it is still, primarily, a bedroom community. Industry and commerce do not intermingle with residences, and the green spaces–the gardens–work to separate neighbours, rather than enclose the community.

If Bill Teron wanted to create a Garden City, he failed. If he did not actually know what a Garden City is, he should not be considered an expert on urban development. Either way, his arguments are inherently compromised.

I don’t mean to pile onto Teron. His design may have been lovely, but he has no skin in the game, and his whims shouldn’t dictate what other people can do with their land. His adherence to a compromised vision shouldn’t prevent the city from being able to intensify within Kanata, a move that–either through increased transit use or demand for mix-use development–could mitigate the errors of this “Garden City”.

The planning committee, in the end, approved the development. Yesterday, it was debated at council. Kanata North councillor Marianne Wilkinson won a small conscession when the setback for the development was increased from three meters to six meters. This seems like a reasonable compromise between the developers plan, the city’s goals and the concerns of residents. Added greenery will help maintain whatever “garden” vision the neighbourhood has, but it won’t be at the expense of needed development.

Wilkinson has also graciously promised to not take the city to the OMB over this democratic decision.

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