Caivan Housing Development – Survey Results – Part Three

Survey Results – Part Three – Member Survey on Caivan Housing Development (April 2024)

Results and comments from the survey: ‘Future Growth For Perth’
Housing Developments and the Opinion of Perth’s Business Community

Chamber Survey: Will Perth Remain a ‘Quaint’ and ‘Heritage’ Destination?

(Perth) – A slim majority of local business respondents to a survey by the Perth & District Chamber of Commerce feel that the proposed Caivan housing development at the Perth Golf Course will not change the character of Perth as a ‘quaint’ and ‘heritage’ destination. Others worry the development will affect the charm of Perth – a quality locals appreciate and why newer residents choose to move here.

Chamber members recently took part in the survey entitled, ‘Future Growth for Perth – Housing developments and the Opinion of Perth’s Business Community’. The final section of the survey includes feedback on the perceived impact the development would have on Perth’s appeal as a picturesque and historic destination; the transformation of the Perth Golf Course as a 9-hole course; and the desire to kickstart collaboration between Town officials and Caivan ahead of the Ontario Land Tribunal hearings.

A total of 55% of those surveyed feel the new development will not alter the ‘heritage’ appeal of Perth, while 35% feel the opposite; 10% are ‘not sure’. Some say the historic atmosphere is most centered in the downtown core, and tourists attracted by that feature won’t be travelling through residential subdivisions like Perthmore, Meadows of Perth or the Caivan development. One respondent says a positive aspect of the Caivan site is that while it is relatively close to downtown, the location is rather “tucked away” as opposed to backyards lining Highway #7 on the outskirts of town.

“Growth is a Natural and Crucial Part of the Local Economy”

Chamber President Brian Perkin says, “A number of our local businesspeople believe other towns manage to preserve a unique or ‘quirky’ town center despite expansion. They feel growth is a natural and crucial part of the local economy. They still caution though, that the introduction of a large development like this, must be phased in gradually and managed properly.”

Others fear such a large subdivision with over 900 units will turn a portion of Perth into a ‘bedroom community’ like parts of Kanata with homes on tiny lots that are unaffordable to the average and lower-income populations. They suggest adding apartment and condo type residences to the mix to lower prices, so they are economically accessible to more people.

More Business Opportunities; But More Competition?

If the new development grows Perth’s population by up to 30%, some small business owners are afraid more franchise and big box stores will arrive to compete in the marketplace, impacting local businesses significantly. It can be a two-edged sword: an increased population means more business opportunities, but perhaps more competition. One uses the example of Smiths Falls, where they felt the arrival of Walmart closed a number of downtown clothing stores, jewelers and other services.

Increased Revenues Could Strengthen Perth’s Historical Elements

Some in favour of the proposed Caivan development think the increased population will have a positive impact on the town’s historical components, as businesses generate better revenues, allowing them to invest in their properties. Likewise, with a larger tax base, the Town will have more revenue to care for heritage buildings such as Town Hall, the local museums, etc. Some point to the recent upgrades in downtown Almonte, Carleton Place and Smiths Falls as examples of preserving important town features.

One commented, “Properly planned densification can add vitality to areas with a small citizen tax base. This requires solid infrastructure, a sincere and rigorous approach to safeguarding environmental health and a design aesthetic that resonates with ‘quaint’ and ‘heritage’.”

“Every town of any significance has an 18-hole golf course.”

With Caivan’s plan to convert the Perth Golf Course to its original 9 holes, 80% of those surveyed say the decision won’t affect their businesses; 11% say it will and 9% are ‘not sure’. But many feel the move will be disappointing with one stating, “Every town of any significance has an 18-hole golf course.”

The Perth Golf Course is Canada’s oldest permanent golf course site in continuous play (since 1890) and some fear any future changes to a downsized 9-hole course could jeopardize that designation. While the course may lose golfers who prefer an 18-hole experience, some commented it might be an idea to transform the course using an innovative 12-hole concept.

With various portions of the proposed development abutting the Tay River, considerations over the environment also loom large with the need to preserve the integrity of this important local water source.

“Don’t rush to get an agreement, but don’t stop talking.”

65% of those surveyed want the Town of Perth and Caivan to resume talks and collaboration now, ahead of Caivan’s appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal this summer. Many are encouraging the two sides to work towards local solutions first, instead of having decisions dictated by the Tribunal.

Perth CAO Michael Touw says the Town is open to mediation with Caivan now and is willing to try to find common ground on the outstanding issues.

Any Plan for a Second Bridge Needs Approval

As a point of clarification, a social media post on Part Two of our Chamber Survey released last week, stated that “Caivan will now build that bridge”. The Chamber would like to make clear, that our post should have explained that while Caivan is now open to discussing a second bridge at some point in the future, they have not yet indicated they will actually build a second bridge, nor have they submitted a revised concept plan. Any final decision on a bridge, its location and timing of construction is contingent on adherence to the Town’s Site Plan, as well as an environmental assessment from the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and approvals from Transport Canada and other agencies.

CAO Touw is hoping to keep the pressure on Caivan in any discussions that may occur to set an appropriate timeline for completion of a bridge, with proper access and safety considerations in mind.

For further information, contact Paloma Zander, Executive Director at: (613-267-3200)