How do You Develop Downtown Milton?

By: Laura Steiner
The question of what to do with the Central Business District (CBD) in Downtown Milton has been following Council around for a long time.
Along Main St, businesses close, others open in their place sometimes within less than a year. Business owners such as those who spoke to a recent council meeting talk about wanting more foot traffic, and a dying downtown.  They view  residential development as one way to achieve that.
Residents agree.  But the question is what kind? The North side of Main St. is on a flood plain, and part of it considered a heritage area.  A development was brought forward five years ago along that side of the street, and nixed by Conservation Halton.  It didn’t even make it to the council table for consideration.
On Monday night a two tower development for the lands on the northwest corner of Bronte and Main was approved in a vote of five to three.  Over 20 residents presented on this. The main difference here, is that it’s off the floodplain.  But as highlighted by the residents the location, building height, and added traffic pose their own concerns.
Complicating things further is the fact Milton is in the middle of amending its official plan.  It’s a mechanism which regulates all aspects of land-use zoning. These towers are 17, and 18 stories high.  The current regulation is 4-7 story buildings, or low/ medium rise developments, which, the residents would prefer.  However because of growth, this may no longer be feasible, and as part of the official plan review, the building height is one of the things that could be adjusted through a review.
Provincial legislation designates Milton as a Place to Grow.  The population is forecast to add approximately 30,000 within the next 30 years.  238,000 by 2031 alone.  There are requirements of so many jobs, and people per hectare as well, leaving the town with the only choice but to build up. Because this development is not on the floodplain, and the Town needs to accommodate more people, the approval was granted.
Should Council appeal? It would take time, and tax dollars.  Two things that don’t mix when you’re facing an election in about 14 months, and have a record for keeping taxes low.  But if there’s one area in town where it’s important to take time with development it’s Bronte and Main.  Everyone agrees there should be residential development downtown Milton.  The only question is what form it takes.