The Peterborough Examiner
City to consider downtown design guidelines
Changes apply to signage, lights, parking, public art and more
A new set of design guidelines for the central area of Peterborough — including the downtown — will be presented to the public in an online information session on May 31.
The 126-page guideline report was recently adopted by city council, and it offers recommendations on everything from signage and accessibility to lighting, green construction, bird-friendly design, public art, massing of buildings and architectural heritage preservation.
At a committee meeting on April 11, consultants Donna Hinde and Ron Palmer of The Planning Partnership presented the guidelines to city councillors.
Hinde explained that the idea is to help the city evaluate development applications, and to “give greater clarity” on the way Peterborough wants to develop over time.
The guidelines are “nonstatutory statements,” Hinde also told councillors, meaning they’re up for interpretation by design professionals such as architects and landscape architects.
“They’re general rules and recommendations,” she said.
One theme in the report is what Hinde called “compatible development,” which she described as new buildings that “reinforce” the character of the adjacent heritage ones without slavishly replicating the same design.
“It’s not development that’s exactly the same — or even similar — to existing development,” she said.
If anything, states the guideline report, new developments “should be visibly differentiated from the old, achieving compatibility primarily through harmonious scale, massing, facade articulation and materiality.”
The guidelines also recommend how to organize parking downtown. Coun. Keith Riel asked at the meeting April 11 whether the consultants thought new development generally needs underground parking structures.
Consultant Palmer said no, that the guidelines don’t recommend developers be required by the city to build parking structures.
At that same meeting, Mayor Jeff Leal said that unlike some of his colleagues he’s “not hung up” on forcing more parking into the downtown.
“I look at a downtown — I’d rather have it jammed (with cars) 24/7, because that tells me it’s thriving,” Leal said.
When Leal then asked the consultants whether they thought there’s enough parking downtown, Palmer said there’s quite a lot.
“I’ve been to a lot of downtowns — you have a lot of surface parking,” he said. “Parking is important — parking feeds the businesses — but it’s not the only thing.”
The online public session where the guidelines will be presented is planned for May 31 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
To attend, people are asked to register through Eventbrite at PeterboroughCAUDG.eventbrite.ca.
To view the written guidelines — complete with many photos showing examples of recommended design — visit the city’s site online at bit.ly/42NDVZk.
‘‘ Parking is important — parking feeds the businesses — but it’s not the only thing. RON PALMER THE PLANNING PARTNERSHIP