Residents frustrated with traffic congestion in Waterdown are a little closer to relief now that the province has given final approval to a new bypass in the quickly growing village.
The province gave a final nod last week to the east-west corridor, otherwise known as the Waterdown bypass. It also denied two citizens appeals for further scrutiny of the bypass’s environment impact.
It’ll still be three or four years before shovels are in the ground for the $45-million bypass, said Coun. Judi Partridge, who represents Ward 15 in Flamborough. But work is officially starting.
“It is good news,” Partridge said. “In fact, since I’ve posted it to Facebook, as people are learning, they’re saying ‘Are there going to be shovels in the ground next year?’”
The bypass in the north end of town is a long, complicated matter dating back about 30 years. City council officially approved the east-west corridor in 2005 as part of a Waterdown/Aldershot transportation study. In 2010, it submitted an environmental assessment to the province.
It submitted another environmental assessment in July 2012, at which time there was a 45-day comment period where residents could ask for further scrutiny from the province. Two groups of residents asked for a more in-depth environmental assessment. After reviewing the requests for more than a year, the province denied those appeals last week.
Partridge will meet with city staff in the next two weeks to discuss next steps for the bypass. That will include a detailed design, necessary rezoning, land acquisition and other details.
For many Waterdown residents, it can’t happen fast enough, she said. Developers are building thousands of new homes in Waterdown. In 2011, its population was 17,048 residents, but is expected to grow to 39,400 by 2031.
The population has already grown by about 3,000 people from 2001 to 2011, city data shows. From 2008 until June of this year, 1,130 new homes were built. The growth means traffic is snarled at major intersections in the core, Partridge said.
Population of Greater Waterdown:
1996 — 11,632
2001 — 14,988
2011 — 17,048
Population projected through the city's Growth Related Development Strategy:
2031 — 39,400
“These traffic issues have gone from being a bit of an irritant in 2006 to being horrendous today,” she said. “Now when we should have had the bypass under construction, it’s been held up for another four years. Meanwhile, development carries on.”
Not everyone is happy about the bypass going forward. Mountain resident Ken Stone appealed the project with David Cohen, and his appeal was denied on Sept. 24.
The project will destroy significant wetland, a woodlot, and a recreational bicycle route along Parkside Drive, the pair said.
They also argued that the bypass would negatively impact the downtown and contribute to urban sprawl.
Stone sees this as a loss for the environment, and for downtown Waterdown.
“We’re disappointed, and we are resigned to it,” said Stone, who also fought the Red Hill Valley Parkway.
Like the parkway battle, this is “the exact same struggle against urban sprawl,” Stone said. “The planet can no longer afford it and neither can the human race.”
The bypass begins at Highway 6 and Concession Road 4 West, heading east and dipping down to Parkside Drive around Grindstone Creek.