Dysart et al council is supporting in principle a new student residence building at Glebe Park for the Haliburton School of Art and Design.

A delegation from Fleming College presented to council Oct. 27 about progress on the development. It’s their first public presentation after months of closed-session discussions, according to Mayor Andrea Roberts.

The two are working towards shifting the lot lines around Glebe Park, from the main parking lot to the heritage buildings, to allow the college to build a student residence with 80-100 units.

Council voted in favour of changing the lines in principle. Roberts said the residence is a significant need.

“That has been identified for many, many years,” Roberts said. “The difference is now we have the college taking a lead on this and not waiting for someone else.”

The development will require the removal of a building currently used by the Nordic Ski Club. Roberts said they are cognizant of the college’s neighbours and the idea for the residence received unanimous approval by the Glebe Park Committee, which includes representatives from each of the organizations that use the park.

However, director of planning, Jeff Iles, said the location has been discussed but not yet confirmed.

Fleming College President, Maureen Adamson, said a student residence in Haliburton remains part of the college’s strategic plan, which they have not wavered on despite the pandemic. She said they have started a team to work on the initiative and a kickoff meeting with municipal planners is scheduled for Oct. 29.

“We really hope that it will achieve more than just expanding programming for Fleming,” Adamson said. “But it will also be a thriving economic vehicle for the local community.”

Recent efforts to create a new student residence date back to November 2018, when Greg Bishop proposed a location along College Drive on part of a 16-acre lot. Previously, the Haliburton County Development Corporation received a $50,000 grant in August 2019 to develop studies for sewer services to the stretch of land.

HCDC executive director Patti Tallman said the college took over the project from Bishop and HCDC is now working with the college. She said the previous location would have been significantly costlier than anticipated and the grant funding is now going towards studies at the new locale.

“It really looks like it’s going to come to fruition, so we’re excited to be part of that process,” Tallman said.

Deputy Mayor Patrick Kennedy asked about the timeline for groundbreaking. Adamson indicated she could not provide one yet.

“It’s a priority,” Adamson replied. “These projects take, I think, three years anyway, in around there. But it is not a complicated build, so certainly, we want it to happen as quickly as possible. I know that’s wishy-washy.”

Roberts said she can recall there was a lot of nervousness when the college first came into place at its location, but it has proven to be a great neighbour.

“I’m hoping through this public process, putting it out to the public now, that there won’t be a nervousness. That we really have, as a council, working with the college, addressed all the needs that we are foreseeing that you the public might be concerned,” she said. “This is going to be a great addition for our community.”

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