Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts said the public will have many opportunities to respond before any development plan for Wallings Road apartments is finalized.

A petition signed by 89 people opposing the development was circulated during an April 26 council meeting at which councillors discussed a revised letter of intent, a preliminary roadmap for a development agreement, between the township and Places for People. The not-for-profit wants to build 15 apartments outside of Haliburton, with an estimated 30 per cent classified as affordable.

Roberts said some concerns outlined in the petition, such as water and septic capacity, must be addressed in development plans. Those plans will be publicly available once the organization applies to rezone the land.

“We’re getting preemptive letters of concern when the file hasn’t come to council,” Roberts said.

The petition, circulated by the Haliburton by the Lake Community Association, claims the development’s location in the subdivision would negatively impact local ecosystems and gifting the land for the affordable housing project is an “inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.”

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Roberts said there will be a public meeting where the people will be able to respond to any plan that may be proposed.

“Any member of the public can speak about any zoning. It may affect them in ways we can’t necessarily see,” she said.

Before Places for People can put shovels in the ground, there are several development milestones to hit, such as submitting a rezoning application, site development plans and an environmental assessment. The file will come back before council multiple times.

The project has been delayed for months, with a dispute between Dysart township and the County over the ability of the Wallings/ County Road 21 intersection to handle increased traffic.

However, director of planning Jeff Iles said the township is “getting down to the details” of a letter of intent.

A letter of intent does not mean the development will be built. In fact, Places for People requested revisions to a previous draft of the letter, which limited the period of exclusive access to the site.

They claimed COVID-19 delays and the petition against the development means a longer timeline is needed to develop the site. The new deadline is Dec. 31, 2023, with council retaining the option to extend the exclusivity period. Places for People also concluded that the reduced property size will only accommodate 15 units, down from the previously set target of 45. “If the Township [is] not willing to commit to providing additional property at this location (once the roadways have been established), 48 units is an impossible goal,” wrote Places for People.

Staff will prepare an agreement of purchase and sale for the property. Council will vote to approve the letter of intent and agreement of purchase and sale at a future meeting.

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