Local philanthropists Tom and Ruth Kritsch have offered to donate two significant pieces of land to the Town of The Blue Mountains.
The Kritschs appeared as a delegation at council’s meeting on May 29 to review the offer and asked town officials to begin the process of moving forward with a transfer deal.
The Kritschs have offered to donate to the town an 89-acre parcel of land immediately next to the Tomahawk golf course on the 10th Line/County Road 113. They have suggested this property could be easy for an expanded community centre/recreational complex. The Kritschs have also offered to donate to the town an 74-acre parcel of land on Clark Street, near the OPP station, and have suggested this property could be used for an affordable/attainable housing project.
“Right now we just want you to make a decision to follow up and put in the necessary resources to make this happen,” Tom said at the meeting. “I look forward to working with you if you decide to go ahead.”
The Kritschs have made similar offers to donate the land to the town in the past, however a potential deal stalled because the properties are zoned specialty agriculture. That classification is extremely restrictive and allows virtually no future development.
In response to the updated offer from the Kritschs, council agreed to form two working groups (one for each piece of property) to take a look at what might be possible for the properties in the future.
CAO Shawn Everitt said the proposed loosening of provincial planning policies have created potential for the two pieces of property. Everitt said the town hopes to secure a delegation with the minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs at the upcoming Association of Municipalities conference to discuss the zoning on the two properties.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity, we’re already on it,” said Everitt.
The CAO said he would be bringing a report about the potential land donation to council’s committee of the whole meeting on June 5.
Mayor Andrea Matrosovs said in the past when the town asked the province about potentially changing the specialty agriculture designation on the two properties that the answer was “a hard no.” However, the mayor said things are different now.
“There is a door opening that could lead to things changing at the provincial level,” she said. “That is encouraging.”
Later in the meeting, council approved the formation of two working groups to further discuss the offers with the Kritsch family. Councillors Gail Ardiel, June Porter and Alex Maxwell will serve on the group looking at the Clark Street property, while Ardiel and councillors Shawn McKinlay and Paula Hope will serve on the group looking at the property near the golf course.