MILLBROOK — The Millbrook Business Improvement Area (BIA) was presented with a $25,000 donation by Kawartha Downs/Romspen Investment Corp. on Thursday — part of a three-year commitment aimed at supporting local businesses ahead of a massive revitalization project planned for Kawartha Downs in Fraserville.
Millbrook BIA president Christine McCulloch received the contribution from John Mutton, Romspen Investment Corp. project manager and government relations consultant, outside the Slots at Kawartha Downs.
They were joined by a number of representatives from Kawartha Downs and Cavan Monaghan Township, including Mayor Scott McFadden and Millbrook Ward Coun. Ryan Huntley.
“Our businesses are suffering right now. This (contribution) is going to do a lot to help us going forward and to grow our relationship with Kawartha Downs,” McCulloch said.
Millbrook BIA will receive another $25,000 in 2023 and 2024 for a total donation of $75,000.
McCulloch said the funds will help the association launch more events.
“We work on a certain limited budget per year, so this influx of money will help us to have more events to bring more people into the downtown which will benefit all of the businesses that are downtown,” she said.
Mutton said Kawartha Downs will host a supplier information night with the goal of involving local downtown businesses in the proposed revitalization project.
“We want to give them an opportunity to expand their business. If the development is going to include a coffee kiosk, and that service is provided downtown, then they have the ability to provide it here. It’s very important for us to keep the money local to ensure the local economy grows,” Mutton said.
Romspen is committing hundreds of millions of dollars to undertake an ambitious development project at Kawartha Downs. It’s set to include a hotel, expanded casino, multi-use indoor concert venue, outdoor amphitheatre, sports facilities, a fairground, tractor pull track, overflow parking — and 588 new residential homes.
The Toronto-based company intends to cover water and utility servicing costs for the 262 acres of land at the site and will offer to extend servicing to the nearby city-owned Peterborough Airport.
“Our plan is to service here, service the residential — after we’ve done our build — and we’re also offering to service the Peterborough Airport and the 2,000 industrial acres around the airport,” Mutton told The Examiner.
The residential component of the proposed project, which is meant to accommodate the housing needs of workers employed by jobs created through the expansion, would see nearly 600 homes built — 193 townhouses, 272 semi-detached homes and 123 detached homes. The plan is to break ground on the residential development after the entertainment component of the project has been completed.
By turning Kawartha Downs into a “destination resort,” Romspen says its revitalization would create jobs locally and spur economic growth in Cavan Monaghan Township and the surrounding area.
The company says the project would also help alleviate housing demands while creating development opportunities for nearby lands benefiting from new servicing.
In a presentation given to township council last month, Richard Weldon, Romspen’s managing partner, told councillors the development will act as a “a catalyst for growth in the area.”
Cavan Monaghan Township council supported a provincial ministerial zoning order (MZO), which Romspen is requesting from the province.
A MZO can be issued by the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs to help fast-track delays to development of “critical” projects, according to the ministry’s website.
Mutton said Thursday that Romspen is still awaiting a response from the provincial government on the MZO request.
“We expect that we’ll probably hear back by around mid-February and we’re very optimistic that it will come back in everyone’s favour,” he said. “Our planning continues right now. It’s full steam ahead.
Mutton said the project could break ground as early as this summer, but residential development likely won’t begin for another two years.
— with files from Mike Davies
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner