The number is a little staggering at first. The suggestion is one development, currently underway on Cooper Boulevard, could result in the building of 350 homes; a developer has said he has 100 lots ready to go in Spruce Court, and the potential to offer another 150 lots in the coming years; and the Town is considering offering a large swath of land behind Raynham Avenue, between Magee Road and Cooper Boulevard, to developers, and it’s possible the area could support as many as 200 lots.
Some residents who live on Raynham aren’t too keen on what they believe is rapid development, suggesting the Town may be growing too fast. There are concerns with the amount of traffic on some residential streets, as well as issues regarding the age and condition of a sewage treatment facility on Magee Road in the area of the proposed new development behind Raynham Avenue.
At last week’s meeting, despite nearly two-and-a-half hours of discussion and debate among the 20 or so people who attended (that included some councillors and Town staff) two things emerged, in my opinion, as the crux of the matter.
First of all, everyone was in agreement a new road must be constructed between Magee Road and Cooper Boulevard to alleviate some of the traffic issues on Raynham Avenue. Secondly, not many residents want to see the land between that proposed new road and Raynham Avenue densely developed.
Town officials have said they need to be able to offer the land to developers in order to raise the money to cover the costs of road construction, a project they estimate could price out in the $4-million range.
Whatever the cost, and however it’s paid for, the road is a necessity. The amount of traffic, and the amount of speeding, present on Raynham Avenue has presented an ongoing safety concern for residents.
But to suggest the Town should construct a wide, boulevard-type road in that area and not permit residential development doesn’t make much sense.
When I was a small kid growing up in Gander, the town pretty much ended at Memorial Drive. Over time, the “new area” as we called it began to grow. Streets like Byrd Avenue and Rickenbacker Road began to be developed, and there wasn’t much green space left over. The new homes had to be built as the town’s population grew.
The same thing is happening now. The recent census showed us our population is more than 11,000, the highest it’s been in many, many years. The forecast is for continued growth in the coming years.
Where are all of these families going to live? Certainly, there are developers in this town who have a number of residential lots either ready for offering or in the works.
But projections are such as to suggest that may not be enough. And if the Town can attract developers to the area behind Raynham Avenue in such as a way as to make enough cash to pay for what seems like a fairly expensive yet much-needed road project, it only makes sense to try to sell that land.
The proposal includes a provision to ensure 10 per cent of the area is preserved as green space, or open space recreation. The dog park, considered a popular attraction for the community, will likely be impacted by the development, but again, any contract will include a clause ensuring the dog park is relocated somewhere nearby.
Gander is growing. It’s a fact.
The Town is doing the right thing by considering developing a new residential neighbourhood in that area.