KAWARTHA LAKES – At a recent committee of the whole meeting, council members voted to support a request for a ministers zoning order from Flato Developments.
The ministers zoning order, MZO, will speed up the process for the developer to break ground on 115 hectares of land on the east side of Lindsay. Flato plans to establish a complete community that will feature approximately 2000 housing units as well as two commercial blocks.
According to Flato President, Shakir Rehmatuallah, the community will offer 200 senior oriented and rental apartments, 10 per cent being purpose built affordable housing. The overall yield of developments will include singles, semis, and 400 back-to-back townhouses.
And while council voted in favour of supporting the request, staff has been directed to work with Flato to prepare a draft development agreement acceptable to both parties. The draft agreement will be forwarded to council by January 2022 for review and approval.
According to Chief Administrative Officer, Ron Taylor, a MZO is a provincial process and the request is initially made to the minister of municipal affairs and housing. The ministry will then request a municipal council support resolution before they issue an MZO, as they typically have criteria that they like to apply.
Taylor noted that council must be vigilant in entering into an agreement with the developer as the minister cannot impose conditions on the MZO.
“In council supporting the MZO, you are really committing to this development, not necessarily today or next year but it’s committing to it in our future growth plan,” said Taylor.
Staff proposed imposing various conditions as the minister cannot do so and even though that could not be done during yesterday’s committee of the whole meeting, staff recommended that the minister and developer be put on notice that if support is given, there will be expectations that certain things will be done and met.
Council will have to enter into a development agreement to their satisfaction and if conditions are met then things can move forward, if not, council can make a follow up request to revoke that order, should they issue it.
Rehmatuallah noted that his team is excited to work with the city of Kawartha Lakes, especially on this project in Lindsay, bringing affordable housing units to the community.
“MZO does not mean we are getting a building permit issued, MZO will do the groundwork for us and allow us to work with the municipality, work on studies, reports and all of the work that would be required for a typical community or subdivision, we are happy to work with the city, the master servicing and transportation plan, whatever the city has. We will work with everyone and we will go through the public process,” he said. “We want to be transparent; we will go through each and every single step that the city has for us. We are happy to agree to all requirements, the city has to be protected, we agree with that, we want to be a good partner, good community builders, we want to work with everyone.”
Mayor Andy Letham noted that while he was hesitant when the request was initially made, he is confident that this is a good news story for the town of Lindsay.
“The development agreement is our way to make sure we are covered as a municipality, confirming some of these conditions that staff is recommending,” said Mayor Letham. “I am in support of this, I spoke to all major developers in Lindsay and told them about Flato, they didn’t throw up their hats but they all recognized that it’s a proposal that is available to them as well. Don’t punish this gentleman for coming forward and being an aggressive developer.”
Mayor Letham noted that he has had several conversations with Flato and is confident that this is something we need in the community and that the municipality has all of their bases covered.
Councillor Kathleen Seymour Fagan questioned developing land that is zoned prime agriculture and also noted that this land currently has no servicing. She raised these questions as she is concerned for other local developers.
“I have spoken to many developers over the last several years who are concerned as this may push Flato to the front of the line,” she told Kawartha411 news.
Seymour Fagan says many developers have questioned this process as many local landowners who have been waiting for a long time for the opportunity to get their land zoned and approved, will continue to wait while Flato moves forward.
“It would be unfair to the people who have contributed to the development of the Kawartha region for decades that someone can take away their chance as it would block future development for others.”
But according to Land Use Planner, Matthew Cory, agricultural designation applies to everywhere around Lindsay.
“The city has a conundrum there, any settlement expansion that is required to accommodate additional growth would be on similar lands, in that sense, we avoid prime agriculture lands where possible but if it is possible, do what you have to do to mitigate it.”
Cory noted that additional infrastructure will have to be built to service these lands for sanitary purposes but according to Rehmatuallah those costs will be paid for through development charges with no additional charges or burdens on the city.
During the first phase of this development, the Flato team hopes to establish at least one building of affordable housing units as it is much needed.
Cory has previously 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.
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.
Read more here: https://www.thestar.com/local-markham/news/2021/02/18/markham-mzo-adds-to-circus-surrounding-flato-development-on-stouffville-border.html
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.
And even though most members of council were sceptical, they voted unanimously to support the request with a deatailed report coming back to council in January.
“It takes so long to do anything, we have a developer here, who wants to do things quickly,” said Councillor Pat Dunn. “He has a good reputation, not only agreeing to bring in affordable housing, other housing, so young people can afford to get into a home and start the process of building personal wealth, he hooked me when he started talking about affordable housing, I ask for the support of council.”