‘Two to tango’: Midland shows path to Bayport resolution

·6 min read

Four homebuyers in the beleaguered Bayport Village subdivision who have faced two obstructions in the battle of developer-against-town, just had one of those blockades minimized for their behalf.

Midland council passed a resolution during a recent meeting which established “a pathway to approval” framework to advance the registration of a small section of the Bayport Village Phase 2 draft plan of subdivision, setting aside the non-critical issues elsewhere on the development to solely focus on the requirements for a specific area labelled Block 27.

Phase 2 of Bayport Village, a Kaitlin Corporation development located on Georgian Bay across from Midland’s harbour, is comprised of 144 freehold townhouse units, a proposed 32 condominium townhouse units, and two proposed 12-storey apartment buildings for roughly 290 units, all of which require site plan removal.

A conditional building permit was issued in November 2020 for Kaitlin to construct the townhouse block of four units, known as Block 27. In late 2020, homebuyers entered into a purchasing agreement with Kaitlin for those units, assured that the remaining work to be completed was similar to the Phase 1 homes already built and lived in by other residents.

Since that time, Kaitlin and the town of Midland have struggled to resolve the Phase 2 draft plan of subdivision approval which would turn the draft plan into registered lots, granting Block 27 homeowners the titles to their purchased homes.

Constant documentation and progress had been exchanged throughout the years on both sides. However, in August 2021, town staff requested Kaitlin explore and advance options for expedition of Block 27 registration.

Kaitlin indicated that only through registration of the entire Phase 2 subdivision would that occur, and had additionally discussed with town staff about a proposed hotel located within Phase 2.

Conditions of draft plan subdivision approval and council approval, following a public process, is both required and typical within Ontario and as aligned with the provisions of the Planning Act. Midland’s municipal site plan control bylaw requires all applicable laws be met in order to issue a final occupancy certificate to Kaitlin.

For the total Phase 2 development, 43 conditions of approval are required to be satisfied; Kaitlin has acknowledged that most of those conditions have not been met.

Repeated instances of partial engineering submissions for hydro utilities continued between August through March of 2022 which Midland could not accept due to their incomplete status. Earlier this year, letters from Kaitlin lawyers were sent to the town stating frustration.

In March, homeowners of Block 27 facing termination of their agreements were offered an extension by Kaitlin until the end of May. Kaitlin repeatedly informed the affected parties that Midland planning department was the obstruction, which those potential residents echoed in their correspondence to the town; the town denied the allegation citing provincial requirements.

The town of Midland isn’t part of the buyer/vendor transfer of title between Kaitlin and Block 27 homeowners, and had remarked that considerable staff time and external legal consultant fees had been used on the matter.

At the recent meeting of council, staff had presented a framework which set whittled down the 43 conditions of approval to those focused solely on affecting Block 27; if Kaitlin followed the framework and met the requirements for municipal approval, then nothing further from the town would obstruct the Block 27 buyer/vendor transfer. However, the remainder of Phase 2 – including the proposed hotel – would be dealt with separately.

Adam Farr, executive director of planning building and bylaw, spoke to the public framework he called “a pathway to approval” for the benefit of council and the public.

“We’ve offered this up in the hopes that Kaitlin would engage with the town in this matter to try and find a common solution for these buyers,” said Farr. “It’s a positive option we’ve put forward, and we’ve had discussions with Kaitlin’s new planner on the file.

Coun. Bill Gordon, remarking “it takes two to tango,” noted that a letter from Kaitlin regarding the framework was asking council to direct staff to certain dates, but Farr responded that although staff had delegated authority on some of the approvals, suggested deadlines couldn’t be committed to and council involvement to expedite already expected results wouldn’t be practical.

CAO David Denault stressed that it was everyone’s intent to get homeowners into homes, but that the Bayport Village development contained many complex parts overall which both Kaitlin and the town were cooperating toward; getting Block 27 occupied was the town’s intent, but “it is reliant upon the information we get back” from the developer.

Mayor Stewart Strathearn, who took note of the “inordinate” town resources spent on an otherwise “straight-forward” matter, hoped that a recent planner assigned to the project within Kaitlin would have “a different record, so that past behaviour doesn’t predict future behaviour.

“We have tried on numerous occasions to… invite people to dance, and it’s not really been forthcoming, in my opinion. This is a very public attempt to lay out a process,” Strathearn added.

Farr replied that additional staff work would be a result of a “civic sense of duty” as staff witnesses “some serious human issues as people struggle and try to find a path to getting into their home.”

“The driver for us is the human situation. It’s a moral issue. For the town to stand aside and watch this – it really is an acute suffering. I think council is aware of the desperation these buyers are facing; it’s in that context that we put this forward,” Farr said.

The approval of the Bayport Village Phase 2 draft plan of subdivision in its entirety lapses on August 14, 2022; if lapsed, it could not be appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal. A request for extension is under review.

Correspondence received from Devon Daniell of Kaitlin Corporation provided a chain of emails between Kaitlin, the town, and the Block 27 homebuyers leading up to the council meeting; one such exchange noted a pleading homeowner moving into temporary accommodations at the beginning of May.

Daniell was unable to comment at the time of publication, noting the complexity of the situation.

The framework for advancing registration of Block 27 report and information is available in full in the council agenda on the town of Midland website.

Council meetings are held every third Wednesday, and can be attended virtually through Zoom by contacting the clerk’s department of Midland town hall for a link to the meeting.

Council meetings can also be viewed on Rogers TV cable channel 53, or through the livestream on the Rogers TV website. Archives of council meetings are available through Rogers TV and on the Town of Midland’s YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca