Plans proceed for retirement facility
By Chad Ingram
Plans for a retirement residence at the former Fleming College property at 1 Sunnyside St. in Haliburton village are moving forward, and councillors got an update from the developer during a March 26 meeting.
Bill Mardimae of Gardens Retirement Development Inc. first visited the previous Dysart et al council in September of last year, and the company has since purchased the property overlooking Head Lake.
“It’s essentially a roadmap of where we are and what we need to get going,” Mardimae told councillors of his presentation.
The plan is for a four-storey facility of approximately 120 units, about 75 of which would be built during the project’s first phase.
“These are preliminary drawings of the building, please don’t take them as gospel,” Mardimae said, as he presented councillors with copies of a rendering showing a rectangular, modern, plain-looking building.
Because Highway 118, a provincial highway, passes by the property, it means the MTO has involvement in the project.
“We need a permit [from the MTO] to drill a well,” Mardimae said. “We’ve applied and we’re waiting.”
Tests must be performed to ensure water quantity, and that a well at the site would not cause significant drawdown on neighbouring wells.
The building would include a concrete foundation with servicing infrastructure, a concrete slab, and then a four-storey wooden structure atop that slab.
Mardimae said the goal is to have the outer portion of that wooden structure completed by late fall, allowing work on the interior to be completed during the wintertime.
“If we want to complete it by October, we’ve got to start work, really, in late June,” Mardimae told councillors.
However, because of previous Ontario Municipal Board hearings on prior condo proposals for the property, there is a hold on zoning that requires a number of studies and reports be completed before the municipality and the developer can enter into a site plan agreement.
“We definitely want to work with you as best we can,” Dysart et al senior planner Sue Harrison told Mardimae. “We know this is an important project. We are in sort of a unique situation with this one ... because ... we have inherited OMB zoning that is very, very specific about what documentation we need to have before we can finalize the site plan and get rid of the holding provision on the zoning.”
“Added to that, is another layer of interest, because we’ve got the Ministry of Transportation, who has quite a bit of influence in this development,” Harrison continued. “They will do building permits, sign permits and, as we know, the ministry takes quite a while to get their comments out.”
The MTO had suggestions about changes to entrances on the property and Harrison suggested the draft site plan be amended to reflect the feedback the developer had received.
Mayor Andrea Roberts said the construction of sidewalks, pedestrian flow and potential crosswalk also needed to be dealt with in the site plan.
Councillors had some concerns about the aesthetics of the building as conveyed in the rendering.
“The official plan allows to make comment on the exterior of the building,” said Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy. “Do we want the box, or is there something we can do with the box?”
Councillors John Smith said he’d like to see some more aesthetically interesting features, such as perhaps a timber-frame entranceway, particularly along the sides of the building facing the road and the lake.
Mardimae reiterated the appearance of the build could change.
“Please treat this as preliminary,” he said.
It is likely Mardimae will return to council in May.
Monthly fees for residents will likely be between $3,000 and $5,000 per month, depending on the type of unit. That includes round-the-clock care, three meals a day in the dining room and other services.