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Town releases agreement signed for future Poplar Village

Minister's zoning order for the project still under enhanced monitoring by the province
2022-03-08 Poplar JO-003
A preliminary artistic rendering of the Poplar Regional Health and Wellness Village, which is planned to be built in Collingwood's south-east end.

It’s been four months since the town and the proponents behind the Poplar Regional Health and Wellness Village project signed a development agreement behind closed doors, and now that agreement, in its entirety, is being made public.

On April 19 as part of the upcoming council meeting agenda, the town has released details of the memorandum of understanding between the Town of Collingwood and Poplar Regional Health and Wellness Village proponents Live Work Learn Play Inc. and Di Poce Management Ltd., which was signed back in December 2023.

“I’m pleased that we can now share publicly more detail about the key excerpts of this mutually promising agreement, providing residents with valuable insight into the proposal which includes exceptional community benefits that are in step with our strategic plan,” said Deputy Mayor Tim Fryer in a news release.

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 developers intended to seek a minister's zoning order (MZO) — a controversial provincial tool to fast-track a change of zoning on a piece of land with provincial authority bypassing the municipal zoning process — to change the zoning of the property from industrial to mixed-use to allow for the community-hub-style development.

In November 2022, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced they had approved the Poplar MZO application. Included in that MZO was added language allowing the proposed development to reach 12 storeys in height, superseding the town’s existing Official Plan.

However, this past December shortly after the town signed the MOU with the developer, the province announced the Poplar MZO was among 14 projects across Ontario marked for enhanced monitoring due to limited progress. That monitoring is still underway, and those projects are planned to be tracked until mid-2025.

According to the development agreement, it will remain in full force and effect for as long as the MZO is in force.

The Poplar Regional Health and Wellness Village includes up to 30 acres of land that has been committed as a donation to the town for a new campus for Collingwood General and Marine Hospital (CGMH).

“I have been pleased to see the interest in our community about the potential relocation of the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital to Poplar Sideroad,” said Mayor Yvonne Hamlin in the release. “The donation of land brings us one step closer to realizing a new hospital for our community.”

Other community benefits outlined in the agreement include a minimum 10 per cent mix of affordable and attainable housing with a commitment to maintain them for 25 years and up to two acres of land for a second town fire station. The town will provide the developer with a charitable tax receipt for the value of the fire station land if it is used by the town within 10 years.

For any parks or public spaces built on the site, such as a possible skating rink, off-leash dog park or community gardens, the developer will take on the cost of construction and maintenance of those spaces as a community benefit, and agrees to maintain them over 10 years through a master parks agreement with the town.

There is a section in the agreement on arbitration, which outlines the private process the two parties will undertake should there ever be disagreement between the town and the proponent.

“My dream for these lands was to create a place of health and wellness for the community of Collingwood and the region, starting with a new state-of-the-art hospital to properly care for the community,” said John Di Poce, owner of Di Poce Management Ltd. in the release. “This will create a true legacy for our family and the entire community for generations to come.”

To read the full memorandum of understanding between the town and the Poplar proponents, click here.

Councillors will receive a staff update on the MOU during their regular council meeting on April 22. Any members of the public may attend in person in council chambers at Collingwood town hall, or virtually by Zoom webinar. The meeting will also be livestreamed on the town’s YouTube channel here.

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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