Planning and preparation for a 47-unit student residence in Haliburton’s Glebe Park is almost complete, with a member of Fleming College’s senior administration saying he expects to break ground on the project this fall.

Drew Van Parys, executive vice president of corporate services and marketing at Fleming, which operates the Haliburton School of Art + Design, said the $16 million build has been supported by the college’s board of governors and is pending provincial approval.

“We’re ready to go. Once we get the go-ahead to invest the funds, we’ll have a formal groundbreaking. We expect the approval will be straightforward and are hoping to hear back in the next 60 to 90 days,” Van Parys said. “In the meantime, there will be some activity on campus starting within the next month as we begin some of the staging work.”

The project has been in the works for years and was brought to the public in 2021, when college staff approached Dysart et al township about building on a 3.7-acre plot in the park. The project was supported by the municipality in March 2022, with Dysart donating the land.

Phase one will feature two, three-storey buildings, containing 47 units, Van Parys said. There will be one-bedroom and two-bedroom options, with each unit fitted with a bathroom and small kitchenette. Van Parys said some of the ground level suites will be accessible for people with disabilities.

Residences ready for 2025

Fleming is anticipating a one-year construction window, with occupancy January 2025.

“It’s great news for students, it’s great news for Fleming College, and it’s great news for Haliburton. While 47 beds doesn’t sound like much, it’s going to have a definite impact on the total inventory of spaces available in the County,” Van Parys said.

Dysart et al mayor Murray Fearrey agreed, saying this news was a “big win” for the community.

“Having these units here, it’ll create a lot of rental space in the community that was being taken up by students. It’s going to have a positive impact on housing in Haliburton, no question about it,” Fearrey said. “With this investment, Fleming College is going to be a long-term player in Haliburton, and I’m grateful for that.”

The mayor said he’d like to see the college supplement its arts programming with offerings in other areas, such as the trades. He said he’s talked to Fleming College staff, including new dean Xavier Massé, about expanding the school’s portfolio.

“I think you’re going to see a change. The arts are wonderful, and the college brings a lot of people to our community, but if we can have a mix that benefits our community… and opens more career opportunities for people, I think that would be a good thing,” Fearrey said.

Van Parys was non-committal when asked about specific programs, but noted Fleming is working on a revitalization strategy for the Haliburton campus, which he said includes the possibility of new programming. Once the new student residence is online, he said the campus would also be offering corporate retreats and arts-based conferences.

Phase 2 and 3 delayed

Van Parys said a second and third phase, which would bring two further buildings and 47 additional units, has been shelved.

“We’re not considering that at this time. We’ll see how this project goes, but that is not in our immediate planning window,” he said. “Hopefully, demand and growth will drive the need for that phase sooner rather than later.” Fleming president, Maureen Adamson, told Dysart council last year the three-phase development, totalling more than 90 units, was a major part of the institution’s longterm plans in Haliburton.

Fearrey said he wasn’t worried about Fleming backtracking on phases two and three.

“The cost of building has gone through the roof since they committed to this. There are projected costs the college had and I’m sure they had to look at it and figure out what to do,” Fearrey said. “The demand also needs to be there. So, build the first phase, see how it goes, and go from there. That’s a reasonable business approach.”