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Council decision on MZO for Poplar Village could come by Aug. 19

'It’s a very major file for us, and I really believe we shouldn’t be passing it on to the next council,' said Coun. Kathy Jeffery
2022-06-01 Poplar JO-003
Attendees of a public open house for the Poplar Regional Health and Wellness Village were given questions and asked to discuss their concerns on May 31.

Council is looking at setting a deadline to decide on whether they’ll support a provincial minister's zoning order application for the Poplar Regional Health and Wellness Village.

During Monday’s (June 20) regular council meeting, Coun. Kathy Jeffery put forward a notice of motion that council be given information to make a decision on the matter prior to Aug. 19, when council will go into a lame duck period prior to the municipal election in October.

“We need time to ensure that all of council is in attendance to consider it,” Jeffery told after the meeting. “It’s a very major file for us, and I really believe we shouldn’t be passing it on to the next council.”

Also considered during Monday’s meeting was a letter on the consent agenda from the developers of the project, Live Work Learn Play Inc. and Di Poce Management Ltd., asking for some movement on the file.

“Unfortunately, discussions with staff have not advanced, despite completion of the requested public engagement and follow-up requests,” reads the letter, signed by Max Reim of Live Work Learn Play Inc.

The Poplar Regional Health and Wellness Village project proposal for 130 acres on the south-east corner of Poplar Sideroad and Raglan St. was first brought forward to Collingwood council in March.

The developers have said they intend to apply for a minister’s zoning order (MZO) — a controversial provincial tool to fast-track a change of zoning on a piece of land — to change the zoning of the property from industrial to mixed-use to allow for the community-hub-style development.

According to the initial vision for the project presented to council, there will be seven key areas incorporated into the design of the village, including a regional health and wellness campus, a market district, long-term care/assisted living facilities, bio-science and medical research facilities, an eco-wellness centre, a regional transit hub, student and workforce housing and sports medicine clinics.

The developer is hoping to see shovels in the ground in 2024-25.

On April 25, council directed the developer to consult the public before they’d consider their support of an MZO.

On May 31, the developers led two public consultation sessions at the Collingwood legion, which were attended by about 200 residents. Live Work Learn Play Inc. also opened a public feedback portal on their website for anyone who couldn’t attend the sessions, or who wanted to provide additional comments.

At Monday’s meeting, Jeffery noted the deadline would ensure more public consultation could occur before council made a decision on whether they would lend their support to an MZO application.

“I wanted to bring this to everyone’s attention through the notice of motion so if council had any additional questions they wanted addressed, that they had the opportunity to ask them,” said Jeffery, noting that moving through the committee and council process again would allow the public consultation process to continue.

“Reading the comments (from the public consultation), I was concerned that some people had misunderstood some things,” she said. “I think another round through the strategic initiatives standing committee (SIC) would be prudent...before we decide on next steps.”

Council voted unanimously in favour of receiving the notice. Coun. Chris Carrier declared a conflict on the matter.

The motion to direct staff, the consultant and the developer to work together to present a recommendation on the matter to the strategic initiatives standing committee prior to Aug. 19 will be considered at the June 27 meeting of council.

UPDATE: The motion was passed at the June 27 regular meeting of council by a vote of 6-1, with Coun. Deb Doherty opposed. Coun. Chris Carrier declared a conflict on the matter.