Haliburton County non-profit Places for People is planning to launch a new community bonds program in June, with president Jody Curry saying she expects the initiative to raise $850,000.

The announcement was made at the organization’s 2023 Haliburton County Housing Summit, held in Minden April 5. Addressing approximately 100 attendees, Curry said the money will be used to help the organization bring more affordable housing units to the County.

“We first introduced this idea in 2019, now we’re really going for it. This will give community members an opportunity to invest and keep their money right here in Haliburton County, while helping to address one of our most critical issues,” she said. “If the early buzz is any indication, we expect these bonds to sell out quickly.”

She said P4P will hold an information session outlining further plans for the program in the summer. She said the bonds would be backed against the organization’s portfolio of existing assets, which includes a five-plex in Carnarvon and seven other units sprinkled across the County.

While P4P pulled the plug on its proposed 48-unit development on Wallings Road in Haliburton in November, citing irrevocable differences with Dysart township over the sale of the land, the organization is hoping to move ahead with a similar project on property fronting Grass Lake. Paul Wilson Haliburton County council has voiced its support for a proposed 88-unit housing development slated for land fronting Grass Lake in Dysart et al.

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County set to endorse Grass Lake development

The project, brought forward by developer Paul Wilson and his company, Harburn Holdings, is seeking to repurpose 2.5 hectares of land along Peninsula Road into four lots that would each house multi-storey apartment and condo buildings, with one unit also featuring a commercial component.

Dysart et al’s previous council expressed support for the build last September, and while County stopped short of formally approving an official plan amendment during a special council meeting April 12, its passing appears inevitable

Warden Liz Danielsen pushed to have the issue resolved at this week’s meeting, but County planner, Steve Stone, recommended the application go back to Dysart with one last requested modification prior to the upper-tier government issuing final approval.

That has to do with a dispute between Wilson and a neighbouring property owner, Dr. Aimee Coysh, who owns and operates Haliburton Veterinary Services. Coysh is concerned about the potential long-term impacts the development could have on her well water quality and quantity.

Stone said the two parties had agreed on a clause, which will form part of the County’s agreement, obliging Wilson and any future owner of the lands to ensure there will be no adverse impacts to neighbouring water supplies before construction can begin.

Addressing County council for the first time, Wilson clarified some points made during a previous meeting held by the uppertier in February. There, representatives from the Friends of Grass Lake advocacy group, who are opposing the project, claimed Wilson had altered the site without the necessary approvals in the late 2000s/early 2010s – allegations Danielsen said she was taking very seriously.

Wilson clarified that all work completed, such as the installation of a pond and placing of fill, was done with full knowledge and approval of representatives from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Ministry of Natural Resources, and Ministry of the Environment

“I have always been confident the facts [of this development] were on my side,” Wilson said.

He noted his primary focus moving forward was ensuring the land is managed properly, saying that while he won’t lead the construction phase, he’ll be picky over who he sells to and will retain final say on any development proposal.

Danielsen said while she doesn’t necessarily believe this is the best location for development, she feels the County has no other option than to support it.

“Assuming we approve this, which I believe we will, I know there will be people disappointed and unhappy about the decision… but we have all the planning reports, recommendations and peer reviews, all the support from every planner we have dealt with,” she said. “We have an urgent need for housing, so personally, I have to endorse this.”

Carolyn Langdon and Catherine Swift, representing the Friends group, expressed disappointment over council’s decision and confirmed to The Highlander that they would be submitting an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT)

“This is about the creation of lots on an over-capacity lake. We’ll just see how OLT feels about this,” Langdon said. “I’m very disappointed. Many councillors were hesitant about this and had serious concerns. I thought they could have done more.”

Swift asked, “The County says the environment is their top priority, but their actions do not match their words, … as far as we’re concerned, this isn’t over.”

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