TBM council wants affordable units at Lora Bay

The Blue Mountains council would like the next phases of development at Lora Bay to include affordable/attainable units.

At its committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 1, council was not impressed to receive a request for a one-year extension of the town’s approval for Lora Bay phase six: Cottages at Lora Bay.

Town approval for the draft plan expires in December. The developer is close to finalizing plans for the next phase, but requested the extension to ensure there is enough time to complete the work. Town planning staff delivered a report at the meeting and recommended approval of the extension.

Lora Bay approvals have been in place since 2006 and any request for an extension must come to council as the initial approvals have been in place for more than 10 years.

However, members of council were not happy with the recommendation to approve an extension without the town receiving something in return.

“They’re looking for something from us. Why aren’t we looking at something from them in reverse? What’s in it for us?” asked Coun. Rob Sampson. “I’m not sure them agreeing to do what they already agreed to do is a great victory for us. Is this an opportunity to add affordable units?”

Sampson noted that since the original plans were approved that affordable/attainable housing has become a prime issue all over the country.

“Is the developer willing to come to the table with some affordable units?” Sampson asked planning staff.

Director of Planning and Development Adam Smith said staff had not asked the developer for affordable units in the conversations about an extension. Smith said staff would follow up with the developer to have those discussions.

Coun. Paula Hope agreed with Sampson on the issue and also said the town should request the Lora Bay developers address concerns she has heard from local residents in that area. She asked that the developer consult with local condo boards about various issues as a condition of approving the extension.

“I’m not hearing a lot of joy from them,” she said. “When an extension is requested, this is a good time to review how things are going.”

Kristen Rennie, the planning consultant for the project, attended the meeting and said the developer has been working to finalize phase six, which is the final stage of the development.

“We were hoping to have everything in place before this deadline,” she said, noting that the project had final designs and engineering work completed. “We’re at the finish line. I don’t believe there is an opportunity to go back and revise the plan.”

Council, as committee of the whole, approved a resolution that would allow a six-month extension, provided more information about potential affordable units and concerns of local residents is provided at council’s meeting on Nov. 14.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca