Dysart et al and Garden Retirement Development Inc. are trying to work through legal hurdles which are stopping the 74-unit senior housing project from progressing.

The development group presented to Dysart et al council July 23 to seek building permits and end a holding provision on the property at 1 Sunnyside St. The provision is preventing rezoning of the property and there are numerous requirements the developer must fulfill to lift it.

Much of the discussion centred on requirements to submit a design for the water system and have the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks approve an environmental assessment for the system. Consultant Greg Bishop said the assessment could take over a year to complete, potentially stalling the project too long.

“What we need is a game plan going forward,” Bishop said. “Full stop, if you need that before we get a building permit, let’s go because we’re leaving … Do we actually need that design? If we do, we may be in trouble today.”

The holding provision comes from an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) ruling from a different proposal on the site made years ago.

Bishop said the provision can remain in place for now, but the developers need permits soon. He suggested a site-plan agreement and a drinking water agreement, which are also required but have not yet been completed, should be sufficient.

Municipal manager of planning Sue Harrison said it would take legal vetting to ensure permits could be issued without the complete water system design in place.

“We’re not looking to stop this development. We want this development to go forward,” Harrison said. “But we also have to document and protect the municipality’s liability.”

The two sides said they were “on the same page” about the issue and wanted to work to resolve it.

“If you need a building permit today, I’m prepared to stay until we get it done today,” Deputy Mayor Patrick Kennedy said.

Bishop responded the permit would only be needed once developers complete the site plan and water agreement.

However, the developers sought a resolution from council guaranteeing once those agreements are taken care of, building permits would be issued.

Former mayor Murray Fearrey, who is now a consultant for Garden Retirement Developments Inc., said the municipality should have some flexibility under the OMB.

“If we can’t get the permits today, I don’t think there’s certainty if we’re going to be able to get them,” Fearrey said. Council ultimately opted not to pass any resolutions on the discussion.

Mayor Andrea Roberts said no councillor is going on vacation and they could call a special meeting within 48-hours to get the project moving once the agreements are sorted with staff.

“This is extremely important to get this right,” Roberts said.

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