Stony Mountain's Secondary Plan: A Case Study

Article By:

Principal | Urban Designer

During the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region's conference on climate change, Nadi Group's CEO, Emeka Nnadi, presented on the role of design to combat its impacts. His ideas concerning urban resilience resonated with a kindred spirit in the audience.

The CAO of the Rural Municipality of Rockwood, Manitoba, engaged Nadi Group to create a Secondary Plan for a residential subdivision in the township of Stony Mountain.

The client’s goal was to develop a conceptual master plan document on the 67-acre parcel in the Stony Mountain community. This document would provide land developers, home builders and community members with the necessary tools and guidelines to ensure that the growth and development of this site will occur in a well-planned, integrated and environmentally sound manner.

The surrounding land is mainly undeveloped with future residential and agricultural character. However, the site still features industrial and recreational activity. A business park located to the -north includes a local quarry- that extracts limestone and other natural stones. Meanwhile, the Stony Mountain Ski area provides outdoor recreation and a tourist destination. The first step was to establish a regional context of the subject site’s proximity to regional centers.

Welcome to Stony Mountain Signage

As an urban designer, my role was to liaise with the client and coordinate our team to produce the Secondary Plan. I was initially impressed by how motivated the RM of Rockwood was to engage an urban design team for what would typically be a planning document project. We had tremendous enthusiasm working with such a progressive-thinking municipal figure, who shared incredible visions for Stony Mountain to become a catalyst in innovation and an exemplary township in environmental sustainability.

Conceptualizing the Secondary Plan

Based on the client’s aspirations, we established the following objectives for this project:

  1. A design approach will steer the Secondary Plan
  2. The design approach will include an exploration of design options
  3. The concept should inspire and challenge the developers/owners to build something unique and attractive for the township of Stony Mountain
  4. Think outside of the box! Get creative!

Before the concept stage, we conducted a site investigation. The site is a greenfield - situated between a highway and a rural road. At first glance, there did not appear to be many natural features and constraints that we could leverage in the design. There were several uninspiring subdivisions within proximity to our site. The client was concerned that if trends in similar subdivisions continued, the township might lose its livability appeal and affect its property value. It was clear that this site needed an innovative concept, unlike its typical, boring neighbours.

Surrounding Subdivisions

During the kick-off meetings, the client shared their inspiration from precedent-setting neighborhoods like Hendrick Farm. Hendrick Farm is a neighborhood in Ottawa, Ontario, that blends environmental, walkability, sociability and livability. It also features a diverse collection of housing options, including condos, townhomes, and single-family homes. This kind of community concept is synonymous with a think-outside-of-the-box design process.

Our team encouraged the client to contribute to the creative process. Together, we explored several design options and illustrative sketches before approaching the draft land-use concept and written document.

Initially, we found it challenging to produce several design options on a blank canvas with minimal site features and constraints to draw inspiration. So, we collaborated with People Places Inc. and explored three distinctive typologies:

  1. Elaborate scheme 1 (Option 1)
  2. Elaborate scheme 2 (Option 2)
  3. Elaborate scheme 3 (Option 3)

We also provided a Selection Criteria matrix to evaluate the three options. (matrix)

What followed was an enlightening and productive meeting with the client. The client encouraged us to incorporate a more organic grid, evoking a contemporary, rural neighborhood.

Some of these ideas stem from the works of site designer Randall Arendt and urban planner/architect Andres Duany. They wanted to introduce local landowners and developers to complementary approaches to land-use planning: New Urbanism for areas around towns and conservation subdivision design for properties in outlying areas zoned for suburban development.

We created a scheme that reflected the client’s objectives using these inspirational brainstorming sessions.

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