DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: After recently discussing concerns regarding a development in East Lindsay, Kawartha Lakes council is giving Flato developments their support for a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) request. In order to receive the support though, the company will have to sign a development agreement.
“I’m pleased the City of Kawartha Lakes has made a good decision to support us. I think the council, the city and the staff see there’s a big need for affordable housing,” Flato president Shakir Rehmatullah told The Standard “The west side [of Lindsay] has been growing, which is great. It’s time for the east side to grow to balance it out.”
He also reaffirmed the company’s commitment to sign a development agreement with the City.
Ward 5 Councillor Pat Dunn said he thinks “this is a good plan” and it’s “beneficial to the City of Kawartha Lakes.”
An MZO is a tool developers can apply for from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to fast-track development approvals. Flato Developments is seeking the MZO for 115 hectares of land in East Lindsay. The planned development is near, I.E. Weldon Secondary School.
The development is expected to include seniors and rental apartment units, affordable housing units, townhouses, and commercial property.
“The reason for the request to the province, and the request to the city to help us get our Minister’s Zoning Order is to facilitate this community building, which will respond to the needs of the community. So, the MZO will help us start the process with the municipality. We are going to be working with the City. We are going to be working in a transparent manner. We’re not cutting any corners. We are going to do all the required studies we have to do. We are going to work with all of the stakeholders and other agencies to make sure everybody is satisfied,” Mr. Rehmatullah said.
At a recent council meeting, some members of the public brought up a concern about how Flato has not provided affordable housing in the past, and have no experience with it.
“It takes a long time after the MZO is approved to get a building permit. Even after the MZO is approved, we still have a lot of work to do,” Mr. Rehmatullah explained. “We are building a senior’s building, our first purpose built rental building, in Dundock. It’s under construction. It’s on our website as well. Our goal is in the next four to five months that building will be completed and seniors will be moving in. For the sake of record, our first seniors purpose built rental building is under construction. For anybody who thinks we’ve never done this before, it takes a long time for us to get a building permit.”
There were also some concerns raised about the potential loss of farmland, given that some of the lands are currently zoned prime agricultural.
“The farmland was sold to us by the families. If they are selling it, it means they are not interested in the area at the moment. We are not developing all of the lands tomorrow. We’re doing it in stages, it’s going to take a long time.
Surrounding Lindsay, everything is farmland. Growth is coming, you have to see where people are going to live,” Mr. Rehmatullah responded, to the community’s concern.
The development company has held two public information sessions, and is encouraging members of the public to watch their social media channels and website for the announcement of another one.
“We have listened to the community members. We know what they are looking for. We know there’s a huge demand and a huge need for different forms of housing units, especially affordable housing units,” Mr. Rehmatullah explained.
He pleaded to the community for everyone to “work together” to help Flato bring affordable housing to East Lindsay.
The next community information session will focus on what the public is looking for regarding size and look of the affordable housing units, as well as what amenities people would like.
“The only way to do the right job is by listening to the people, and that’s exactly what we are doing,” Mr. Rehmatullah said.