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Special council meeting Monday for potential exemptions to development pause

Staff is presenting recommendations for an exemption application process
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Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

Collingwood council is being asked to make some exemptions to the building permit freeze it implemented last month. 

Even before passing the interim control bylaw that has effectively put a moratorium on any new building permits, council was hearing from local developers and their lawyers asking for exemptions for their sites. 

When council passed the moratorium on April 26, it was with a caveat that staff come back to council soon with a list of recommended exemptions for council to consider. 

Under the rules of the interim control bylaw, staff are not issuing building permits for new homes or units because of a limit on the town’s water treatment plant to produce enough clean drinking water to keep up with new development in town. 

The plant was due to be expanded in 2025, a process the town is hoping to accelerate. 

While there is enough drinking water capacity to meet the needs of current residents and the building permits already issued, there is not enough capacity to cover new development until 2025. 

That hasn’t stopped local developers from asking for permits anyway. 

According to town staff, requests for exemptions continue to arrive at town hall. 

The interim control bylaw already states building permits can still be issued where the building or renovation doesn’t change an existing use (rebuilding a home, adding on a deck, renovating a house, etc). 

Any building permit issued before the bylaw was enacted on April 26 also still stands and building of those new homes can continue.

On Monday, staff are presenting a report setting out some suggestions for ways to consider exemption requests that come in from developers and landowners in the community. 

The report recommends council consider exemption requests on a case-by-case basis using an application system with a deadline of June 18, 2021. 

Staff suggested weighing the exemptions against criteria such as servicing efficiency, timing of completion, the extent to which a proposal reflects the objectives of a complete community (affordable housing would fit here), and the developers willingness to sign an agreement promising to start building within a time limit. 

There are more criteria proposed in the staff report, which is available online here.

Staff suggest each application be first vetted by town staff and then brought forward in a report in July for council’s consideration. 

Based on calculations from public works, there is enough water capacity still for 1,091 more single dwelling unit equivalencies (SDU). 

The SDU calculations assume about .75 cubic meters per day for a single-detached home. Therefore, different units could require less than one SDU. 

For example, an apartment is calculated at 0.66 SDUs for water capacity. 

Of the 1,091 SDUs available in water capacity, staff is recommending allocating 106 of them to Eden Oak and Sunvale Homes subdivisions on Poplar Sideroad. 

Staff note the exemption is recommended based on consultation with the town’s solicitor and after staff reviewed the matter. The units in question include 64 single-detached dwellings, 18 semi-detached dwellings, and 30 townhouses (112 units, and 106 SDUs). 

If council approves those Poplar Road property exemptions, there would be another 985 SDUs of water capacity remaining. 

Some of the exemption requests attached to the special meeting agenda as correspondence for May 31 include: 

  • A proposed four-storey (50-unit) apartment building at 655 Hurontario Street (near the intersection with Lockhart Drive). 
  • Continued development of the Balmoral Village subdivision block two and three, which includes condominiums and apartments as well as a build out of the medical centre. 
  • A single-family dwelling at 223 Oak Street 
  • The Regent at 84 Hurontario Street, which was proposed in Oct. 2019 as a 12-unit residential building with ground-floor retail space for downtown Collingwood. 

According to the staff report there are already 639 building permits issued between Jan. 1, 2019 and April 25, 2021 for sites where construction is underway. 

The special strategic initiatives committee meeting, which includes all seven members of council, will start at 2 p.m. on May 31.

Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and community editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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