TBM staff negotiating with builder for Campus of Care project

The proposed Campus of Care project in The Blue Mountains has taken a significant step forward.

At its meeting on March 6, The Blue Mountains council passed a lengthy resolution (found here on the agenda) about the Campus of Care project proposed for property at 125 Peel Street. For the first time, the town publicly acknowledged that it is in negotiations with peopleCare Communities and SkyDev for the construction of the Campus of Care.

The project proposes a new long-term care centre built on the 32-acre property that includes the 160 long-term care beds allocated to The Blue Mountains by the province last year. The project would also include: a retirement residence, staff housing, a possible childcare facility, commercial components and environment and parkland features.

CAO Shawn Everitt delivered a full report to council that outlined the history of the proposal and its current status.

“I’m excited to be able to have this report in front of council,” Everitt said at the meeting.

PeopleCare and SkyDev were the lone proponents that were identified through the town’s request for pre-qualification process. However, their subsequent request for proposal submission did not meet the town’s mandatory minimum technical requirement. Everitt reported at the meeting that the proposal was strong enough that town staff continued negotiations with peopleCare and SkyDev about their concept for the project.

“Staff have worked very diligently and those discussions have moved forward,” said Everitt.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care has also been involved in the review process and the town continues to work with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on its community housing infrastructure accelerator application. The accelerator program is replacing the minister’s zoning order (MZO) process.

“That in itself has been an interesting process. We are the first to go through a (community housing infrastructure order) application,” said Everitt.

Included in the resolution unanimously passed by council was the provision that the acceptable height of the proposed labour force housing project at the Campus of Care would be five stories and after completion of the project that town would be left with six acres of developable land at the property - this is down from the town’s initial request of 10 aces.

The town has also invited peopleCare and SkyDev to make a full presentation about their plans for the Campus of Care at an open session of council in order to share the plans for the project with the public.

The CAO described the conversations with peopleCare and SkyDev as “very positive.”

“They have a clear understanding of what we’re looking for in the next round of concepts,” Everitt said. “They’ve listened and they have been responsive.”

Council, which had been briefed about the situation at a closed session on Jan. 23, was pleased that the status of the Campus of Care is now public.

“We needed this, especially the new council. And the public needs this information,” said coun. Alex Maxwell.

“It does answer a lot of questions,” said Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon.

The next step for the project will be scheduling a special meeting for peopleCare and SkyDev to publicly present the proposal to council and the public. Everitt also noted processes remain in place for site plan control of the proposal and the disposition of any of the lands at 125 Peel Street.

“It’s important the public sees what is being proposed,” he said.

Mayor Andrea Matrosovs thanked town staff for their hard work on the project. In his report, Everitt said staff had spent more than 1,000 hours on the Campus of Care project.

“Thank you for the thousand hours so far,” said Matrosovs. “This is one step closer to being able to bring it out to council at committee of the whole.”

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca