Moncton's Vision Land dreams get boost as company pitches major development
Cordova Realty plans mixed-use buildings six to eight floors tall in city's northwest
The City of Moncton says its decades-long dream to see a sprawling section of the city's northwest developed is closer to fruition.
"It's been a major priority to try to get things going in this area," Bill Budd, the city's director of urban planning, said in an interview. "So we're getting close to seeing some of this area open up."
That area is the so-called Vision Lands. It's about 1,400 acres (about 566 hectares) of wooded and largely undeveloped property between Wheeler Boulevard and the Trans-Canada Highway.
Moncton-based Cordova Reality on Wednesday announced it has purchased a 25-acre parcel (about 10 hectares) in the Vision Lands, bringing its holdings there to 140 acres (about 57 hectares).
The company revealed it plans a "visionary mid-rise community" that would include mixed-use buildings six to eight storeys tall.
The company did not provide an interview. On its Facebook page, Cordova said nearly 80 per cent of the buildings would be six or more floors of residential space. They would include underground parking, shops and other services at street-level.
Cordova's properties are along the western portion of the Vision Lands near Mapleton Road. The company described the recently purchased land as the "last key portion" that will allow access to its property from three intersections: the future Louis J. Robichaud Parkway, Moncton Boulevard and Lady Ada Boulevard.
It didn't provide a timeline or estimated value of the project.
Budd said the plans would require a number of approvals from the city before it could proceed, including rezoning given the area is now zoned to allow buildings with only two residential units.
The city's desire to develop the area goes back almost two decades, though only recently have the edges of the Vision Lands started to develop.
Plans for a 260-acre (105-hectare) sustainable neighbourhood in the east portion of the area, next to the University of Moncton campus, didn't take off. Only a few homes were built and the mortgage holder bought the property back during a mortgage sale in 2014.
Last year the province purchased land for a large new Francophone kindergarten to Grade 8 school north of École L'Odyssée, a high school off Leopold F. Belliveau Drive. Budd said that school could help drive development in the area once complete.
The Vision Lands have been described by the city and Cordova as the "last large portion of land" undeveloped with municipal boundaries.
City staff have indicated that one factor slowing development was the need for costly infrastructure, like new roadways and bridges, to access the land and open it up to development.
The city recently introduced a bylaw specifically for a separate part of the city, but with a framework staff say could apply to the Vision Lands, that would deal with cost-sharing.
Budd told Moncton council on Monday that staff expect to work with landowners in the Vision Lands to develop a new secondary plan for the area over the next year or two.
That plan, part of the overall Municipal Plan, sets out development policies and goals, establishing a general vision for the area. The last secondary plan for the Vision Lands dates to 2006.
Moncton's Municipal Plan places an emphasis on encouraging development downtown and discouraging sprawl. However, development of the Vision Lands has long been part of the plan.
"The Vision Lands will play an important role in the development of our city over the next 25 years and beyond," the plan states. It says the Vision Lands are anticipated to be home to 10,000 to 15,000 residents in the future.
New Kent store planned
Budd pushed back on the idea that developing the Vision Lands would be considered sprawl since it's been part of the city's plans for years and is within the area bounded by the Trans-Canada Highway.
The property is southeast of land held by J.D. Irving Ltd., which plans to replace a Day & Ross truck terminal with a new 100,000 square-foot Kent building supplies store.
A city staff report presented to city council Monday indicates the company hopes to have the Kent store finished by 2022.
The report says there are plans for a second phase with an additional 150,000 square feet of retail floor space and 10,000 square feet of restaurants to be developed by 2025.
"This looks like a great development and finally it looks like we could be getting some work done on the Vision Lands," Coun. Brian Hicks said of J.D. Irving's plans.