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Room to Grow in Centre Wellington

There’s no denying that these are exciting times for Centre Wellington. Take a drive around our boundaries and through our core areas and the signs of voracious growth are obvious. The prominent development of residential, commercial and industrial lands is indicative of both a strong local economy and also the collaboration of invested parties to create a sustainable and livable future for future generations. But how is this going to evolve over the next few years, how can such growth be viable and how will Elora and Fergus appear afterwards?

Well, to answer some of these questions I recently sat down with the township planning department to suss out where we are, where we are heading, and how we will get there….. together.

As much as we love our quaint village feels, the Ontario Government’s ‘Places to Grow’ act of 2005 mandates that Elora and Fergus achieve the following goals by 2041:

Such growth does not arrive without a few inconveniences and hiccups along the way as services become stretched thin and construction vehicles add time to your commute or block your driveway. Hold on to your hats though because these infrastructure updates are all for the greater good and we will undoubtedly emerge a stronger, more vibrant economy as a result.

Conscientious developers are building a mixture of homes and styles in accordance with the density guidelines of the Act. These include single-family detached freeholds, townhomes, linked and multi-storey condos. Basically, this assortment of styles allows the ability to house more humans upon less land, which will effectively maintain agricultural lands for crops, pasture and wildlife. Smart planning goes into making sure that community access to parks, activities and amenities is facilitated, that new developments have sidewalks and practical lighting, municipal sewers, safe roads and abundant water. This is intelligent, carefully considered and effective growth, which is in stark contrast to the random urban sprawl we have all seen elsewhere, and I for one am excited by the projected diversification in our landscape.

The master-planned neighbourhoods of Storybrook and Summerfields are progressing well in the Northwest and Eastern areas of Fergus respectively and will entice over 1500 new families to Center Wellington. The South End of Elora will soon be growing again with new developments slated for York St (Granwood Estates, 100 homes) and potentially along with a large stretch of South River Rd. And don’t forget the South Side development of the Elora Mill with an estimated 105 luxury condos entering the pre-construction market in Spring 2019. All of this will bring new inventory to the localised real estate roster while still being attractively priced in comparison to nearby GTA, Guelph and Waterloo markets.

So how do we endure these awkward adolescent years before maturing into the compassionate, kind and thoughtful adult that will certainly be the future Centre Wellington? A surefire method of coping is to look ahead to all that we will become, so here is a breakdown of what I know so far. 

Road and bridge repairs have been a focus of the current municipal government and this will continue. The recently replaced St David St bridge is close to being completed which will open up a much-needed artery. There are discussions pertaining to the necessity of a bypass route to divert through-traffic away from the core area of Fergus entirely, need I say more.

An elementary school will eventually occupy the Storybrook development to accommodate the expected influx of families. More families mean more groceries and so a highly anticipated Sobeys is due to be built on St David St at Sideroad 19. The existing Zehrs supermarket will be moving across the street and slightly south of its current location into what I imagine will be a larger space, with perhaps a Joe Fresh section. This will open up more retail opportunities in the gateway lands for incoming businesses.

A new retirement home will be erected close to the Best Western Hotel on St David St North as part of the directive for Aging in Place. This will assist in mitigating the expected increase in continuity of care for our growing senior population.

The much anticipated Groves Hospital is expected to be operational in Aboyne as early as 2020 and there will be a new daycare in close proximity for the youngest members of our community. There are still no definitive plans as to what will become of the current hospital location.

Further industrial developments are on the books for the land adjacent to the JEC plant in Elora along with the fringe lands south of Fergus. Once built, these will provide employment and help to enable a localised work/life balance to which many ascribe. The new medical/retail building on Carlton St in Elora is almost complete and ready for its tenants, and the vacant site beside the Gorge Country Kitchen is anticipating future commercial development.

Low-rise apartment buildings are adding much needed purpose-built rental space for locals and newcomers alike. One such dwelling will be constructed at Beatty Line and Farley in Fergus, while in Elora the apartment block at McNab and Highway 7 is already advertising for tenants. In order to add essential rental inventory, homeowners in Fergus and Elora are encouraged to create accessory apartments within their own residences. No longer relegated to basement units, these secondary outfits are advocated for ancillary structures such as coach houses or above garages, as long as they adhere to the Ontario Building Code. Not only do these add crucial rental supply, they also allow a homeowner to become a landlord and radically offset their mortgage payments. In many cases, the projected rental income can help to qualify for a home that may be otherwise out of reach.

Admittedly this is rather a rudimentary vision as to what to expect and I have no doubt that plans will evolve and morph over the ensuing years. It’s not hard to imagine that the existing boundary lines between Fergus and Elora will become less distinct as localised development continues and we welcome new families as neighbours, business owners and employees.

All of this points to the fact that yesterday would have been the perfect time to purchase a home and invest in Centre Wellington. But if you missed it, don’t worry, there’s no time quite like the present. I’d be delighted to show you around my neighbourhood and talk real estate, because quite frankly honey, things will never be the same again.