KAWARTHA LAKES – Flato Developments recently requested a ministers zoning order from council as they continue to plan the development of a complete community on the east side of Lindsay. The company has a second development in the works in Cameron as well.
At a recent committee of the whole meeting, the Flato Development President and team members gave an overview of their future plans for the town of Lindsay. With hopes of speeding up the process, a minister zoning order, MZO, was requested.
“This will allow us to work with city, to participate in various studies and to participate in the official plan amendment with the city, once we get the MZO approved we can participate and work with the city and we can move forward,” said Flato President, Shakir Rehmatuallah. “Our intent is to go parallel with the city, to bring it on faster, with an aggressive plan to have obtainable housing, we sincerely believe this will fast track things, there will be no cutting corners, we respect everybody, we will work with everyone.”
MZO’s have traditionally been used by the provincial government in emergencies, or to quickly advance a major initiative of provincial significance according to ED. Examples provided by the group include allowing a new grocery store to open in Elliott Lake when their only other one caved in, and when the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan was launched to help address water quality in the lake.
Since 2018, the province has issued more than 44 orders, which give the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing the power to designate land use, overriding local planning processes without the possibility of appeal, in order to fast-track certain developments. Environmental Defence says the Ontario government is using it to speed up controversial developments by eliminating expert analysis and public input. It was meant for special cases but has now become more routine.
According to Katarzyna Sliwa, lawyer and partner representing Flato, the company owns 351 hectares of farmland on the east side of Lindsay but they are requesting the MZO for 25 per cent of it, to facilitate the development of 119 hectares of land.
“The MZO will facilitate the development of a complete mixed-use community with options to live, learn, work, shop and play,” she said.
According to Sliwa, the proposed development will provide an additional of 150 senior-oriented residential units and 100 apartment rental units with approximately 1,200 new homes of various types.
Land Use Planner, Matthew Cory noted that the plans for the new development have been focused on various principles including, a strong sense of community, a low impact development community, an age-friendly and economical community, a walkable community and a community connected to nature.
And while this new community would be in close proximity to IE Weldon Secondary, the plans will also likely include a space for recreation, various restaurants, coffee shops, clinics and more. According to Rehmatullah, Flato has hosted two public meetings and many requests for commercial businesses, such as restaurants and coffee shops were made.
“We believe in building communities, not just buying land and putting in a lot of homes, it’s way more than buildings homes, it’s working with the community, stakeholders and the municipality to make sure we respond to the needs of the community, that’s what we believe in, we want to work with everybody,” he said. Flato hopes to break ground within the next two to four years and is ready to begin as soon as they can. Rehmatullah noted that timing depends on when various studies, zoning approvals and more are complete.
“From our side, we are ready to go,” he said. “Purposeful rental sweets will be incorporated in phase one, we are ready to make it happen as soon as we get a green light from the city.”
Councillor Pat Dunn expressed his excitement for the potential development and moved a motion that the presentation be received and referred to staff for a report back by October at the committee of the whole meeting with recommendations for council to consider.
The motion was passed unanimously.
“Kawartha Lakes is a beautiful place to live, work and play, to enjoy and raise a family. If I could, I would want to move myself,” said Rehmatullah. “With that kind of mind, we are coming into City of Kawartha Lakes, especially Lindsay with a lot of opportunities. We have found a great opportunity in the east side of Lindsay and we are excited to get going, we need your support to move forward.”
According to the Toronto Star, Flato Developments Inc. already has three MZOs in its pocket for properties straddling Markham and Stouffville north of 19th Avenue bordered by McCowan Road and Hwy. 48 for a massive 2,000-plus home development on agricultural lands outside current urban boundaries.
Rehmatullah told Kawartha 411 they have used MZO’s in the past to fast track developments but said they would not be taking that route for their proposed development in Cameron.
“Usually we use MZO’s for the benefit of the community, to fast track the development. Anybody has the right to apply and it’s up to the province to decide.”
A Ministers Zoning Order has been used in Kawartha Lakes though, by another developer.
Craft Developments used an MZO to get their project approved at Jennings Creek in Lindsay. A modified and expanded MZO issued on March 5,2021 (originally issued July 2020) allows Craft Development Corporation to “replace farmland, hedgerows and the wooded shores of Jennings Creek with a big box store and subdivision” according to Environmental Defence.
This is part of the rumoured Walmart Development site. Documentation from the Ontario government says an MZO was used to facilitate a proposed development of 563 new residential dwellings consisting of a mix of housing types, including single and semi- detached homes, duplex, triplex, fourplex dwellings, and townhouse blocks.
Rehmatullah says his company gives back to the community and he was in Lindsay recently to make a $25,000 donation to Ross Memorial Hospital.