Fleming Residence could start next year pending site plan approval
By Darren Lum
Construction of the first phase could begin in late spring and take up to 18 months
Fleming College’s student residence plan with 94-bed space takes a step forward in its process to add much-needed accommodation to the area, following a special council meeting on March 25 which took place held virtually.
Council for the Municipality of Dysart et al accepted the zoning by-law amendment to address setback provisions and deferred the site plan agreement to be discussed at a future meeting.
The plan, which is expected to be executed in three phases, includes a 1,790 square foot residence, with four three-story buildings, divided into two pavilions, which includes 54 suites.
The first phase includes the construction of the first two buildings, with one building for each of the following phases. Pending site plan approval, the first phase is expected to begin in late spring or early summer 2023 and construction will take up to 18 months, then the college will assess the success of phase 1 by terms of occupancy to determine the need for further development. A year or two would pass before starting phase two. This residence will be served by municipal sewage and a new private well.
Even before the start of the discussion, the mayor of Dysart, Andrea Roberts, who is convinced that the residence will be filled during the opening phase, has shown her enthusiasm for the development.
“It’s a very exciting day for Dysart and for the college. It’s been a long time coming and it’s a desire of the municipality and basically the county to see a student residence here which will only help the college grow and [I’m] look forward to today’s meeting,” she said.
Public consultation on plans for Fleming College’s new residence on the 3.7 acres in Haliburton continues. Part of this already included the “traffic requirements of all neighboring property owners within 120 meters of the lands in question and the appropriate agencies were circulated for comment on March 1, 2020. The required advertisement was also placed in the local newspaper , in accordance with the requirements of the Planning Act,” said Kris Oran, Senior Planner at Dysart.
While the mood in the township and college was positive, there are concerns among stakeholders. Some of these concerns include parking, for example whether there would be designated places for students, users, which include hikers, cyclists and Nordic skiers; lighting of parking lots and walking paths; the location of the wooden frame entrance barrier (closest to the college); accessibility; ensure that a trail width is consistent with the needs of the winter snowmobile trail under the Haliburton County Snowmobile Association and ensure that the access route for emergency vehicles is established in accordance according to the requirements.
The college and its team were encouraged to address these concerns and consider the recommendations, as presented through this process, which included delegations made at the meeting. The team’s plan includes native landscaping, lights that meet the requirements of the night sky, and ensuring a landscaped buffer between the museum’s historic buildings and the residence. The latest concerns raised are expected to be addressed in the plan which has yet to be approved and will be part of a future meeting later this year.
Area resident Adam Brind, who lives a short walk from the college parking lot, asked about lighting and suggested planting mature evergreens to reduce the light directed at the back of his home.
A member of the consulting team, DM Wills Associates Limited lead designer Joe Fleming was open to the suggestion and said it was “an excellent suggestion for mitigating light intrusion”.
He added that the trees would also help provide shade for the parking lot.
Jim Blake of the Glebe Park and Museum Committee spoke on behalf of a few groups such as the museum, the HCSA and individuals. Blake pointed out that the path between the museum and the wood-framed entrance is frequently used as a passage and should be considered part of the plan that was not visually final with a path. The kiosk is valuable and should remain, as it functions as a gathering site and the space between the gate and the parking lot is used as a staging area for groups, he added.
Blake said Mike Darlington noted that the college parking lot lights went out at night.
“That’s right, Jim. The parking [lot] the lights go out when the college is closed. However, once we start having a residence there where students come and go all hours of the night, we will have to be mindful of their safety. That being said, I think we can have other conversations around the overflow parking lot [furthest away from the college]. I think we can do it for sure. But we can’t turn off all the lights. We just have to be very, very mindful of student safety,” said Sandra Dupret, Fleming College’s executive vice president, academic and student experience.
Blake also raised concerns with Darlington about “how the water management ditch silted up at the bottom of the hill near the leaf sculpture”. It has been suggested and it needs to be looked into, so that the water does not flow into the houses where his residence is instead of going east to Head Lake.
Another issue that came up at the meeting was the planned use of asphalt for the nearly 200-space parking lot, which was chosen in part for accessibility. The council was concerned about the environmental problems that asphalt could pose and that it was not complementary to the environment.
“Dealing with climate change and everything else in our world is always about trade-offs. And, you know, I guess I’m counting on the college team to kind of express a willingness or an unwillingness to go away, maybe, to reassess the need for all that asphalt,” Smith said.
Until council saw this recent plan, they were unaware of the choice to use asphalt for the parking lot. The Fleming team said stormwater management was being considered to mitigate flooding prior to the Darlington sighting.
Dupret said she recognizes the concern over the choice of surface.
She will consult with the team to deliberate on options related to the amount of asphalt used as requested by council.
Smith suggested the team look at the Minden Animal Hospital parking lot, with its permeable surface, as an example to consider.
Prism Partners Inc. co-chief executive Susan Conner, who is the project manager for the development, said the timeline for completion of the three phases is not known at this time.
“We heard a lot today. I think we need to digest that and think about what those solutions would look like, both in terms of implementation and cost of implementation. And I also think that working with Kris [Orsan, Dysart senior planner] and Jeff [Iles, Dysart director of planning]we need to do some housekeeping with the site plan agreement that you have in front of you… I think we need to do another draft, you know, and work with the staff to do a draft that addresses some of the things that I just spoke,” she said.