‘Blueprint for future’ takes shape
New west London development will generate power it uses
LONDON — The old marketing maxim is sell the sizzle, not the steak.
Sifton Properties is taking that approach in selling its new West 5 development — Ontario’s first solar-powered neighbourhood.
A presentation centre that Sifton opened last month has a theme park feel. It’s crammed with cutting-edge technology and kidfriendly gadgets and toys aimed at selling a futuristic, environmentally friendly lifestyle and a walkable village-style community of 4,000 to 5,000 people.
“This is the next opportunity for planned communities. We see this as a blueprint for the future. It’s a lifestyle of energy conservation and community,” said Sifton Properties chief executive Richard Sifton.
The company that launched Berkshire Village as a model community in the 1970s has a history of innovation, he said.
At the presentation centre, visitors are greeted by Zip, a Jetsonsstyle cartoon dog, and his pal, Dean, who guide you to the displays: • A virtual reality system that
lets you tour neighbouring Kains Woods, complete with close-ups of the critters. • A smart fridge with video display that lets you view and catalogue the contents and order groceries.
• Interactive touch pads that
highlight community features. • The Cube, an interactive video
floor pad that lets kids play games, such as soccer or table hockey.
West 5 will have about 2,000 residential units, including townhouses, low- and highrise units, along with ground-floor and standalone commercial units.
Every building and even the parking lots will have solar panels that feed eight megawatts of electricity into the grid — enough to cover all the power the community uses.
Sifton said it’s the higher density that makes this solar-sufficiency possible.
“Single-family homes have spaces in between and you lose the opportunity for solar. Higher densities are better, more efficient,” he said.
The heart of the community will be a central square featuring events such as movies in the park, concerts and yoga classes.
The plan is to have all units available for rent initially, but some may be sold as condos in future as the concept gains acceptance.
“Once we get into the mainstream rental market, it will become something people want . . . ‘Prove to me that it works’ — that’s what we are doing,” Sifton said.
The complex was launched last year with the opening of Sifton’s new corporate offices, the first space to be occupied on the 28-hectare site,
The first, 87-unit townhouse block is nearing completion and the first dozen or so tenants have moved in.
In a sign that pets have become family, the next building will be a pet centre with a vet, grooming and doggy daycare. That will be followed by a medical centre and a 10-storey, 115-unit apartment building in the middle of the community.
That apartment building, billed as the first highrise net-zero building in Ontario, is still in the design stage.
“This had never been done in
Canada. We have all kinds of challenges,” Sifton said. Sifton predicts it will take about 10 years to complete the West 5 development.
Sifton Properties Ltd. president Richard Sifton stands next to a model of West 5, a 28-hectare neighbourhood the company is building in west London. West 5 will be 100 per cent powered by solar energy.