‘Blue­print for fu­ture’ takes shape

New west Lon­don de­vel­op­ment will gen­er­ate power it uses

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - NEWS - HANK DANISZEWSKI

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.

DEREK RUTTAN/POST­MEDIA NEWS

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.

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