A New Direction for Brechin+Newcastle

Daniel Appell, Jan. 31, 2011

At the last PNAC meeting the discussion of the neighbourhood plan for Brechin+Newcastle was begun. Up to now PNAC has only been apprised of the progress of this so called “plan” in its draft stages.

This last meeting involved representatives from community groups presenting very brief descriptions of their concerns regarding the so called “plan.” The group, which included people for both Newcastle and Brechin Hill, composed a list of amendments to the plan. They have asked PNAC to recommend this list to council.  I dubbed this list a “patch.” It is an attempt to correct some of the most egregious errors inherent to this so called “plan,” while interjecting some content that reflects the neighbourhood point of view.

There was a concerted effort by all those involved in the composition of the patch to keep it simple and direct it towards the most prominent errors. Its focus is on four primary issues; view protection and the protection of property values, extreme over-zoning on the Brechin Waterfront and throughout the neighbourhoods, random insertions of commercial zoning into the neighbourhoods, and some traffic incursion do to poor street design.

All things considered, the patch is the best response to an extremely bad situation. It provides some intelligence and balance to a document that lacks both. It would buy time until a real plan could be fashioned for that area. It is a patch, which means it is temporary and it has a number of holes, but it can be incorporated into the substrate of a real plan as soon as the city realizes that there is a need for one.

After the meeting, Councillor Holdom intimated to me that he would be open to “alternatives” to the city document, and that he couldn’t imagine the present draft being passed by council. I hope he is right.

Since that meeting I have focused on a development plan for the Brechin Waterfront. I believe the key is to reduce expectations for this area to the point where reality can be considered opportunity. And to develop in a way that secures property values for those living in the neighbourhoods. My initial studies indicate that this might not be as hard a challenge as I first thought. At least there seems to be a single elegant solution at the heart of both these problems.

I’ll let you know how all this proceeds.