New Bruce Power training facility raises economic expectations, traffic concerns

Section: 
News

By Barb McKay

Construction on a new Bruce Power facility in Kincardine could begin as early as this fall.

Representatives from Bruce Power and consulting firm Stantec attended last Wednesday’s Municipality of Kincardine council meeting to discuss plans for a training and education facility that will be located behind Gary Street and the Sutton Park Mall.

Bruce Power is proposing to build a 128,757-square-foot facility on an 18-acre parcel of land. The facility would include a two-storey building with offices and classrooms for 330 staff and 150 training employees and a one-storey bay shop that will be used for training and storage.

The development land is owned by Ontario Peninsula Farms and the parcel of land for the Bruce Power facility would need to be severed off. It is unknown at this time if Bruce Power will purchase the land or lease it.

The proposed facility will provide offsite training for tradespeople who will be working on Bruce Power’s major component replacement (MCR) project, which will begin in 2020. Having the facility outside of the Bruce Power site is part of the company’s initiative to provide economic development benefits to host municipalities.

“I think it’s important that council and the municipality realize that a lot of infrastructure and facility changes need to be made before the first major component replacement,” said Bruce Power’s Chief Financial Officer Kevin Kelly.

Kelly said Bruce Power hopes to break ground this fall and have staff in the facility for training in 2019 so that those employees will be ready to train tradespeople associated with the project.

“We think the location in proximity to Highway 21 and the ease of access to the site makes it ideal,” Kelly said.

He said Bruce Power has long-term plans for the facility.

“We have built a great relationship with your community and you can expect the same with this facility.”

Bruce Power and Stantec held public open houses with residents who live around the site, primarily residents of the Philip Place condominiums, and received mostly positive feedback. The back of the facility will face the back of the Sutton Park Mall while a storm water management facility (pond) will be located behind the condos to provide residents with a more aesthetic view. Sidewalks will be installed along Gary Street as well as a multi-use trail on the west side of the street.

“It provides room for residents so their kids can walk and bike and have a safe place to go,” said Krista Walkey, a senior planner with Stantec.

The primary concern of residents in the area is the added traffic congestion and pedestrian safety at the intersection of Philip Place and Gary Street.

“We are concerned not only for our residents, which include seniors as well as families with young children, but also our neighbours at Trillium Court and other pedestrians that travel to Sutton Park Mall,” said Irene Hemmers, President of the Philip Place condominium board.

She said the proposed crosswalk, which consists of two white lines on the road with no signage and no lights, is inadequate and the board expects that a resolution will come about with further discussion with Bruce Power and Stantec. Otherwise, she said, the board of directors would welcome Bruce Power as neighbours and is pleased to endorse the proposed development.

“This project will bring further economic growth to the area and we urge council to take the necessary steps to bring this important initiative to the municipality of Kincardine.”

Councillor Maureen Couture who sits as policy chair for Kincardine’s building and planning department, said concerns will be addressed through the site plan agreement and there will be an opportunity when Gary Street is reconstructed to put in a proper cross walk.

Glen Norcliffe, who lives on the south side of Kincardine, said he thinks the off-site facility makes sense and will benefit Kincardine but is concerned about the increased traffic from Highway 21 and Bruce County Road 23 to reach it. He said Kincardine’s street network is not well-connected and there is no quick access from the highway into certain parts of town.

With this proposed development and imminent residential developments that will add to the traffic congestion, Norcliffe said he would like to see the municipality put a road in that would connect the area of Sutton Park to the north end of town near the hospital. Not only would it relieve traffic, he said, but it would also provide a quicker route for ambulances to reach the Kincardine hospital from Highway 21.

Councillor Laura Haight said that route would require significant bridging and a number of Bruce Power employees that travel in from other communities like Paisley commonly use concession roads, rather than go through Kincardine.

Still, she said, “I do agree an extension to the north end of town would be in order for all the future development.”

Stellina Williams, Bruce County Business Investment Specialist, said the development will help draw more business into Kincardine.

“I think approval of this application will send a signal to (Bruce Power) suppliers that Kincardine is ready for growth.”

Barb Fisher of Bruce Communities Futures Development Corporation also praised the initiative, noting that not only will it bring new business to the Sutton Park area, it will increase property values around the site.

A lot of the leg work has already been done in terms of preparing the application, including a storm water management report, traffic impact study and stage one archaeological study. Walkey said Bruce Power has received approval from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for a temporary construction access off Sutton Street and is hoping to pursue a permanent access road.

“With the MTO we have to take baby steps and a construction access is a good first step,” she said.

Pending site plan approval, the tender process will begin for water and sewer servicing early in January with the expectation to extend services to the site in spring of 2018. The application for the project with a recommendation from the Bruce County planning department will come back to Kincardine council on Sept. 6.