Woodstock Council news: Redevelopment plans change for two major town properties

by | May 21, 2024

Significant residential projects in limbo

Woodstock’s hope to see former school and church sites turned into large residential complexes faces roadblocks. 

After the council recently cancelled an agreement with a developer to build a six-story 75-unit apartment complex on the former Woodstock Baptist Church site, it announced changes in plans to convert the former Woodstock Middle School into apartment units. 

During the April 16 council-in-committee meeting, Planning and Development Director Andrew Garnett explained the development partnership originally interested the school property no longer exists. 

Garnett said one of the partners, Emmett Group, now owns the property, adding a new partner expressed interest in the project. 

He explained that the conditions initially approved by the council in January 2023 remain in place to protect the green space and surrounding properties.

The conditions require the developer to submit and gain council approval for its landscaping plan and forbid motorized access from Orange Street. 

The original plan, which called for the retrofit of the school and construction of a new apartment unit on the property, remains in place. Any further development requires council approval. 

Meanwhile, the council and staff are reviewing expressions of interest for a new town hall that could involve the former church property across Main Street from the Woodstock courthouse. 

The town previously reached out to developers for proposals to provide a structure with a town hall as a long-term tenant. The expressions of interest could involve utilizing the town-owned church property or a separate proposal for a building elsewhere in the downtown core. 

At the April 16 council-in-committee meeting, Garnett said the town is reviewing one application involving the church property and four proposing a town hall elsewhere. 

In addition to the shortage of town hall space, the council is actively pursuing opportunities to address the housing shortage. At a late March council meeting, Garnett informed the council that the federal government declined Woodstock’s application for up to $5 million of financial support under its Housing Accelerator Fund.  

“We were hoping to receive funds but were advised we would not be getting any funds,” Garnett said. “Our application was strong, but there were a lot of applications. We are hoping there may be a second round.”  

Mayor Jones noted that no one on the western side of the province received funds from the federal program.

Townsview School asks for use of town-owned property

Woodstock council recommended that staff prepare an agreement to provide Townsview School access to adjacent town-owned land.  

Mayor Trina Jones explained the town’s long-term plans for the property, which sits between the school and Woodstock Baptist Church. These plans centre on the potential construction of a street connecting L.P. Fisher Lane and Squires Street if future development warrants it. She added that the town has no immediate plans for the property. 

While the school currently uses the green space as an outdoor learning site for K-to-Grade 8 students, it hopes to expand its use. In its request to the town, the school explained that it wants to create a garden, trail network, and additional outdoor learning spaces. 

FOREST FIRE INDEX – click image for current status

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