Groundswell works with the project team (architects, landscape architects, surveyors, designers, engineers) to coordinate the plans and information necessary to obtain a building permit.
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Many of our clients reach out to us to assist with understanding the risks involved with purchasing a property. Given the extensive nature of planning and environmental policies that apply to many jurisdictions, the decision of whether or not to purchase land is rarely simplified.
Groundswell conducts a review of planning policy, and (where necessary) works with environmental scientists and civil engineers to understand the constraints that would limit the value and potential of a property. In many cases, we can provide a reasonable expectation of the amount of development that would be permitted as well as the potential uses and density that could be realized. Mapping and images are also prepared to ensure that our clients clearly understand the opportunities associated with their property consideration.
Every planning and development application must be justified and proven to be ‘good planning’. This means that Best Planning Practices are considered, such as good urban design, compatibility with adjacent land uses, reducing sprawl, creating a mix of housing and land uses (among others). Specifically, there must be coherence with planning policy documents (provincial plans, official plans & zoning by-laws) to ensure that the development is appropriate and constitutes ‘good planning’.
A Planning Justification Report is typically required of most development applications as a method to evaluate the planning policies that prevail as well as consider Best Planning Practices for the proposal. Groundswell has qualified Planners that can prepare these reports that include a thorough review of policy and process, as well as high-quality graphics and images to support our position.
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Many planning and development applications require input and consultation with the public and other stakeholders. We are experienced with making deputations to committees and councils, and at Statutory Public Meetings.
Planners are facilitators, and we take this to the furthest extent possible in order to ensure that communication is encouraged and managed for our applications. We convene meetings with residents, Town/City/Regional Staff, and politicians to share information, facilitate solutions and manage expectations.
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Groundswell provides expert evidence and representation for our clients at the Ontario Municipal Board. Our expert testimony includes the preparation of planning graphics as well as witness statements to support our position on land use planning matters.
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Official Plan Amendments
Groundswell provides assistance and coordination for Official Plan Amendment applications from the onset to final approval. Groundswell prepares the justification report, amendment text and figures to implement the amendment and works with the other consultants to submit the necessary requirements to produce a complete Official Plan Amendment application. Groundswell also prepares and presents the application to Council and the Public at the Statutory Public Meeting. Groundswell is highly involved in a cooperative effort with other project consultants, municipal staff, politicians and other stakeholders to ensure approval at Council.
Groundswell works closely with municipal staff and project consultants to prepare the appropriate materials to support a rezoning application. Groundswell prepares the justification report, detailed text amendment and figures for the application to ensure that site-specific zoning standards are implemented to accommodate the proposed development. Groundswell also prepares and presents the application to Council and the Public at the Statutory Public Meeting and follows through to final approval. Similar to the Official Plan Amendment applications, Groundswell coordinates with other project members to ensure approval.
Site Plan Approval
Site Plan Approval is needed for properties undergoing change where specific site details are being determined – the type and location of landscaping, access, walkways and pathways, vehicular and emergency access, detailed grading and servicing, and the interface with adjacent properties and buildings. Site Plan Approval is often required for properties after land use changes (Official Plan and Zoning By-Law Amendments) are approved. Groundswell works with the consultant team to submit complete application packages, facilitate the review and circulation by municipal staff, and expedite the Site Plan Agreement for the client.
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Committee of Adjustment Applications
Whether you are looking to subdivide a property (consent/severance application) or do not meet certain zoning standards (minor variance application) for your development, Groundswell has extensive experience when dealing with applications before the Committee of Adjustment. Groundswell will consult with municipal staff to fully understand the policies affecting your consent and/or minor variance application. Groundswell will prepare the applications and figures to illustrate to the Committee the specific needs and will represent your application at the Committee of Adjustment.
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Groundswell works collaboratively with the client and other consultants to navigate the complex environment of municipal approvals. We manage interdisciplinary project teams and provide coordination of development applications up until approval, ensuring that budgets and timelines are respected. Groundswell draws on its extensive knowledge of industry professionals to recommend the appropriate consultants for a project – whether it includes more detailed financial analysis, heritage and environmental constraints or facilitating cost sharing agreements and landowners groups.
Site Planning and Design
The ability to capitalize on the features and opportunities specific to a development site – while adhering to the regulations and constraints set out by the governing bodies – is the goal of the designer throughout the site planning process. When all of the component parts have been identified and addressed through a detailed site analysis, a conceptual site plan is prepared to attain not only proper building design and placement, but also efficient site circulation and maximum yield. At Groundswell, we recognize the need to work closely with our clients to understand their specific needs and desires as it relates to their development project.
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The design of a subdivision can influence how communities and neighbourhoods will interact, live, work, and play for generations to come. When a tract of land is slated for subdivision design, constraints and opportunities are determined and a limit of development is established. Within those limits, the subdivision design – be it residential, industrial, or commercial in nature – is sketched out to incorporate the particular land uses as designated by the official and secondary plans for that area. Schools, parks, and small commercial blocks are often incorporated into the design of a residential subdivision. With a focus on safe streets, walkability, appealing vistas, and centralized nodes, Groundswell strives to design each subdivision and subsequent road layout with efficiencies of infrastructure, traffic, and saleable linear frontage; intrinsically adding value to the land being developed.
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Infill Site Design
Mindful of the need to curb urban sprawl, infill development opportunities have gained in significance and relevance when planning great cities and towns. Urban regeneration, urban renewal, urban intensification, brownfield reclamation, and adaptive reuse are among the prime catalysts for infill site design opportunities. Groundswell’s approach to infill site design considers the parcel of land within not only its own context and merit, but also that of its surrounding environment and how it integrates into the existing fabric and built form.
Draft Plans of Subdivision and Condominium
Upon completion of the subdivision design, the next phase in the approvals process is to embark on the documentation and submission of a Draft Plan of Subdivision. A review of the municipal zoning standards sets out the parameters with which to construct a CAD-based plan of subdivision. To meet the requirements for submission, the Draft Plan of Subdivision must include a legal boundary and topographic survey, a legal description, a key plan, Owner’s authorization, Surveyor’s certificate, Registered Planner’s seal, Planning Act information, and a detailed schedule of land use. Groundswell prides itself in having extensive experience in the documentation and submission of Draft Plans of Subdivision; as well as Draft Plans of Common Elements Condominium.
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Visioning concepts are often pursued at the outset of a potential development project, and can serve as the impetus for the direction a project will take. At this stage, regulations may be diluted in lieu of a big picture approach. Be it large scale or small scale – master plan or site specific – in nature, Groundswell embarks on each visioning exercise with best planning practices and its client’s strategic positioning given equal consideration.
Opportunities and Constraints Mapping
Fundamental to the planning and design process is the need to determine the opportunities and constraints inherent in the parcel of land being considered for development. A thorough analysis of governing regulations, policies, and legislation is essential to determining and – to some extent – quantifying the impacts on development potential. Groundswell utilizes a mapping approach to illustrate the constraints; the net results of which are opportunities that present themselves in the form of developable land.
Planning Graphics and Displays
Be it formal submissions as part of the approvals process, public consultation sessions, or presentations before regulatory bodies, Groundswell is engaged graphically at all stages in the planning process. A significant part of the planner’s role is to communicate their position with respect to the project and the client they represent. This is achieved most effectively through the use of displays and graphics in support of board hearings, official plan amendments, rezoning applications, consent applications, and planning justification reports.
SCOPE: SUBDIVISION DESIGN, DRAFT PLAN OF SUBDIVISION
LAND USE: RESIDENTIAL
SITE AREA: 98 HA (243 ACRES)
YIELD: 1,000+ UNITS
Ainslie Hill is a Residential Community situated on approximately 240 acres of land in Georgina. This large- scale subdivision embodies elements of varying housing concepts in order to create a community which caters to a wide range of housing needs and lifestyles.
Groundswell Urban Planners was retained to prepare conceptual designs, subdivision layouts, and draft plans of subdivision for consideration and review. Extensive research was carried out into varying housing options worthy of an emerging residential market at the northern limit of the GTA. Elements of conventional, new urbanism, and pocket neighbourhood designs were incorporated into one concept to form a hybrid subdivision master plan.
The Ainslie Hill residential community offers housing in varying forms of single detached lots, single walk-out lots, semi-detached lots, townhouse lots, townhouse condo units, live-work units, and pocket neighbourhood units; a hybrid solution that not only provides an urban focal point and centralized park node, but also protects the existing natural features.
SCOPE: OFFICIAL PLAN AMENDMENT, ZONING BY-LAW AMENDMENT, SITE PLAN APPROVAL, 'PLANNING JUSTIFICATION REPORT' & PUBLIC & POLITICAL CONSULTATION
LAND USE: COMMERCIAL
SITE AREA: 2.49 HA
Groundswell Urban Planners was involved with the land use approvals for this proposed commercial development in the Town of Newmarket, located at the northeast corner of Stonehaven Avenue and Bayview Avenue.
Various commercial users will occupy this space including a bank, grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants, and other retailers. This development focuses on providing commercial amenities within walking distance to the surrounding community and is compatible with its surrounding uses. Groundswell Urban Planners was part of numerous discussions with adjacent neighbours and hosted a Public Meeting on behalf of the owners to inform neighbours of the commercial development and process.
Groundswell Urban Planners assisted with the planning process in obtaining official plan amendment, zoning by-law amendment, and site plan agreement for the proposed commercial development.
SCOPE: DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT, PROJECT COORDINATION, PUBLIC & POLITICAL CONSULTATION, PLANNING GRAPHICS & DESIGN
LAND USE: RESIDENTIAL
SITE AREA: 36 HA
YIELD: 742 UNITS
Groundswell Urban Planners was engaged by the owner of a former golf course to assist with facilitating the approvals required to permit a large infill residential development. An Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-Law Amendment, and Plan of Subdivision were required.
Groundswell Urban Planners’ role included managing community engagement and input, working with the owner and local politicians, and coordinating the communication via local media as well as the project’s website. Several smaller meetings and groups were organized in order to obtain neighbours feedback on specific issues, as well as a large open house to present the redevelopment to the community and stakeholders. As the process unfolded and the applications were appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, Groundswell Urban Planners worked with the owner, the consulting team, and the legal team to prepare for what was ultimately a successful hearing and decision.
A lengthy process was required to work through the technical details associated with the proposed development. Significant input from Staff, Town council, and the neighbouring residents was received and managed while focus was maintained on the significant issues of the development and its integration into the existing community.
SCOPE: PLANNING JUSTIFICATION REPORT, DRAFT PLAN OF SUBDIVISION, PUBLIC & POLITICAL CONSULTATION, OFFICIAL PLAN & ZONING BY-LAW AMENDMENTS, ONTARIO MUNICIPAL BOARD
LAND USE: RESIDENTIAL
SITE AREA: 2.4 HA
YIELD: 134 UNITS
Groundswell Urban Planners obtained the planning approvals for this residential subdivision located in an established residential community. Official Plan and Zoning By-Law Amendments were required, as well as the design of a Draft Plan of Subdivision.
As the development is an infill site within established developments, it was imperative that adjacent land uses were considered in the design of the subdivision. Industrial uses are located to the west, while established residential lots are located to the east, north, and south. Groundswell Urban Planners’ role included the preparation of a Planning Justification Report that included the review of local and regional planning policies, specifically, the consideration of appropriate transition measures in light of the Town’s strong policies that govern infill developments.
Groundswell Urban Planners assisted with assembling the consultant team and managing the submissions for planning approvals. High-level discussions with local representatives were facilitated by Groundswell Urban Planners, in addition to community engagement and consultation. Groundswell Urban Planners also provided expert testimony at the OMB in support of a minor variance application that was required for some of the larger lots within the proposed community.
SCOPE: COMMITTEE OF ADJUSTMENTS, DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT, ONTARIO MUNICIPAL BOARD
LAND USE: RESIDENTIAL
SITE AREA: 0.16 ACRES
Groundswell Urban Planners assisted the owner with a severance and minor variance applications in order to facilitate a residential dwelling on each of the retained and severed parcels. Groundswell Urban Planners made the deputation to the Committee of Adjustment. The Committee did not grant approval of the applications, and therefore an appeal was made to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
Groundswell Urban Planners represented the owner at the OMB. Several illustrations were prepared to demonstrate the minor nature of the setback deficiencies being requested, and to demonstrate the severance impact to the surrounding neighbourhood. The OMB ruled in favor of the owner’s minor variances and severance applications.
SCOPE: SITE PLAN APPROVAL, BUILDING PERMIT COORDINATION, DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT, PUBLIC & POLITICAL CONSULTATION
LAND USE: COMMERCIAL
SITE AREA: 2 HA
Groundswell Urban Planners obtained the planning approvals for this high-profile new car dealership in Newmarket. Site Plan Approval was required, prior to the issuance of a Building Permit.
Groundswell Urban Planners assisted with assembling the consultant team and managing the submissions for Site Plan Approval, as well as facilitated the submission and issuance of the Building Permit. High-level discussions with local representatives were facilitated by Groundswell Urban Planners to ensure that the project remained on schedule.
SCOPE: PLANNING JUSTIFICATION REPORT, DRAFT PLAN OF SUBDIVISION, OFFICIAL PLAN & ZONING BY-LAW AMENDMENTS, PUBLIC & POLITICAL CONSULTATION
LAND USE: RESIDENTIAL
SITE AREA: 35 ACRES
YIELD: 110 UNITS (VARIOUS SIZES)
This 35 acre property is located at the northwest quadrant of Glenwoods Avenue and Woodbine Avenue in the Town of Georgina. A naturalized channel is located immediately east of the property and was constructed when a 10 acre commercial plaza (Keswick Marketplace) was developed a number of years ago by Senator and Craft Developments. The subject lands are one of very few large parcels available for development within the Keswick urban boundary.
Approximately 16 acres of environmentally-sensitive land were protected leaving 19 acres of property to be developed for residential purposes. Lot sizes for the homes ranged from 10.4m (34 feet), 12.2m (40 feet) and 15.3m (50 feet), and a total of 110 residential lots were proposed.
Groundswell Urban Planners (on behalf of Senator Homes) managed, coordinated, and submitted a number of supporting studies/reports including the Planning Justification Report and Draft Plan of Subdivision. Groundswell Urban Planners presented the development to Council and the Public at the Statutory Public Meeting. After the Public Meeting, Groundswell Urban Planners worked with the Project Team to address the Staff, LSRCA, and Public comments.
SCOPE: SITE PLANNING & DESIGN, DRAFT PLAN OF SUBDIVISION, ZONING BY-LAW AMENDMENT, PLANNING JUSTIFICATION REPORT, PUBLIC CONSULTATION, ONTARIO MUNICIPAL BOARD
LAND USE: RESIDENTIAL, MIXED-USE
SITE AREA: 0.70HA (1.73 ACRES)
YIELD: 174 UNITS (VARIOUS SI ZES)
Groundswell Urban Planners was retained by Dwight Slessor Holdings Limited to obtain Municipal land use planning approvals to redevelop and intensify the property. The property is 1.86 hectares (4.60 acres) and is located just north of Davis Drive having frontage on both Yonge Street and George Streets. The site was one of several dealerships that were downsized through restructuring by General Motors and represented a unique opportunity due to its location, to redevelop comprehensively as the lands were currently under-utilized and vacant. The redevelopment plans implement the Town’s vision for the Yonge-Davis Provincial Growth Centre by proposing a very dense form of development in a location that makes use of existing and planned infrastructure. There is a direct signalized entry into the property with the Upper Canada Mall directly opposite the site.
Groundswell Urban Planners presented the redevelopment plans to Council and the Public at the Public Information Meeting and the Statutory Public Meeting. After the Public Meeting, Groundswell Urban Planners worked with the Project Team to address Staff, Region, and Public comments. After several minor amendments to the 4-phased development concept plan, approval for the zoning bylaw amendment was granted to permit two buildings with Yonge Street frontage to a maximum height of 21 and 19 stories and the other two buildings with George Street frontage to a maximum height of 8 stories. In summary, approximately 725,000 sq. ft. of residential development (862 units) was approved in addition to 98,000 sq. ft. of commercial retail space fronting onto Yonge Street. Approximately 1,175 underground parking spaces will be required once all of the development is built out. Permitted land uses in the approved zoning bylaw include residential, commercial, long term care facility, and a retirement residence.
SCOPE: OFFICIAL PLAN AMENDMENT & ZONING BY-LAW AMENDMENT, PUBLIC & POLITICAL CONSULTATION
SITE AREA: 1.76 ACRES
Groundswell Urban Planners was responsible for leading a team of consultants in obtaining a zoning bylaw amendment for the 7-storey Tao Condominium Building in Richmond Hill designed by Graziani and Corraza Architects. The previously underutilized property had a two-storey commercial plaza with constant tenant turnaround and a separate historical home converted into retail space. The rear of the property also faced a ravine that fell under Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) jurisdiction. The project also involved keeping the historical home on the property as it was considered a valuable heritage symbol for the Town.
Leading the planning process Groundswell Urban Planners managed the consulting team to obtain the appropriate land use approvals. Groundswell Urban Planners was heavily involved with community engagement and ongoing communication with approval authorities
Located in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Groundswell is a boutique Planning firm comprised of multi-disciplined partners providing services to private sector clients.
With a diverse range of experience and expertise, we provide real estate Planning consulting and design services to clients throughout the GTA and Ontario.
Our company has been involved in over 150 land use Planning projects since its inception in 2009.
We embrace a collaborative stakeholder approach to planning resulting in a synergy between the clients we serve and the public sector we integrate. We encourage communication and community engagement as a strategy to create sustainable projects.
We offer expert advice and testimony for projects that need to be resolved at the OMB.
MCIP, RPP, PRINCIPAL
Brad Rogers has over 30 years of consulting experience. Brad holds a Bachelor of Civil Technology (Transportation Option) Degree from Ryerson University in Toronto and is a full member of the Canadian Institute of Planners (MCIP) as a Registered Professional Planner (RPP). Brad is considered by many to be a leading planning consultant with a wide variety of land use planning experience. His depth of experience in Ontario has primarily focused on real estate development, project management and strategic planning approvals for private sector clients. His project experience includes municipal planning studies, Official Plan Amendments, Zoning By-Law Amendments, Plan of Subdivision and Condominium approvals, strategic land acquisition consulting, public consultation, site plan approvals, minor variances, expropriation and providing expert evidence at the Ontario Municipal Board.
Brad is experienced in presenting projects to Councils, Committees and Public Meetings. He frequently coordinates multi-disciplinary study teams reflecting varying levels of size and complexity for commercial, residential, employment, recreational, golf course and institutional developments. With land use planning and urban design support from the Groundswell team, Brad leads the business development and strategic processing of numerous development applications from acquisition to final approvals.
MCIP, RPP, SENIOR PLANNER/PARTNER
Kerigan Kelly (BES, RPP, MCIP) is a Senior Planner and Partner with more than eleven years of experience in the planning and land development industry. She has held positions with a land developer and other consulting firms, where she worked on varied and challenging projects throughout the GTA and southern Ontario.
Kerigan brings her education in Planning and her strong Project Management abilities to Groundswell. As Senior Planner, she provides ongoing support to clients on a day-to-day basis and is responsible for managing projects and project teams that typically involve multiple disciplines. In addition to managing projects, she provides planning policy and development insight to her clients in order to facilitate the complex municipal approvals process.
Kerigan’s strong operational skills are applied to each project, ensuring that schedules and budgets are effectively managed.
MCIP, RPP, LAND USE PLANNER/PARTNER
As a registered member with the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and the Canadian Institute of Planners, Lucila’s role is to gather background planning research to better understand the land use policies of clients’ properties, prepare Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment applications, and Planning Justification Reports to analyze the planning merits of development applications. She manages teams to ensure that projects are completed in a cost-effective and timely manner.
Lucila also works closely with the other Planners at Groundswell on the co-ordination of project activities, follow-ups and the day-to-day management of projects in order to achieve timely deliverables and submission preparations.
At Groundswell we strongly believe that investing in our community can change lives. That’s why, over the years, we have partnered with a variety of great organizations that support our community and bring meaningful initiatives to different aspects of our community.
The causes that we passionately support through financial donations and volunteer work are:
Groundswell is growing, and we are looking for bright, dynamic individuals to join our team.
Please forward your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org – ensure that the job posting is referenced in your subject line.
95 Mural Street, Suite 402
Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3G2