‘Really bad decision’: City signs deal with developer for Orchard Point apartments


Residents lamented that “the feelings, concerns and interests of hundreds of people in this neighborhood mean nothing to City Hall or the developers.”

The city of Orillia and the Coland Developments Corporation have reached a settlement over a controversial development in Orchard Point, sparking outrage from community residents who have opposed the condominium project since its inception.

The proposed eight-storey project would span properties along Atherley Road and Driftwood Road in Orchard Point, and would include an L-shaped 45-apartment development starting at four levels near Driftwood Road and climbing up to Atherley Road 8 floors.

At a public meeting in December, the developers requested several zoning bylaw changes, including allowing an eight-story building, parking areas adjacent to Lake Simcoe and reducing interior side yard setbacks from enclosed parking areas.

However, following outcry from residents over the development’s potential impact on the community, the council has deferred any decision on the zoning bylaw amendment and asked Coland to consider reducing building heights and densities and consider only allowing emergency construction along Driftwood Road. Vehicle access.

In January, Coland appealed the council’s decision to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), and a subsequent city staff report noted that the litigation would require an initial budget of $100,000.

J. Pitman’s appeal on behalf of the developers states that “more than 900 days have elapsed since the (zoning bylaw) application was deemed complete and more than 365 days have elapsed since the (site plan) application was deemed complete.” Patterson is an attorney at Toronto law firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

However, before the issue was heard by the OLT, the city and Coland reached a settlement on the project last week that will restrict vehicular access to the development along Driftwood Road while preserving the project’s proposed architectural form.

“The terms of the settlement involve some restrictions on access on Driftwood Road while allowing for building heights and densities consistent with the city’s official plan and provincial directions,” said Melissa Gowanlock, the city’s communications manager.

“The parties have found a middle ground whereby the city is able to restrict development access to Driftwood Road in accordance with direction provided by the City Council at a public meeting on the matter on December 14, 2023.”

Gowanlock said the move would allow the city to avoid “significant costs at the taxpayers’ expense” and that both parties would attend a settlement hearing at the OLT in August.

Mayor Don McIsaac said the solution was reached after “careful consideration of all options” and that residents’ concerns were factored into the decision.

“We took note of the concerns raised by residents and they played an important role in our decision-making process,” the mayor said. “The conciliatory route was chosen because it represents the most feasible path to a balanced outcome that is consistent with The goals set by the City Council, feedback from residents and respecting our commitment to fiscal responsibility.

However, Orchard Point residents were dismayed by the outcome. Kathy Hunter acknowledged that litigation could be costly, but she warned that allowing the project could set a bad precedent.

“I think this sets a very dangerous precedent for future development of stable neighborhoods and the rest of the city,” she said. “I’m sure when this development starts happening, people see all the trees down, they see a huge hole in the ground by the lake. They see a huge commercial-type building being built, and I think they will Shocked.

While Hunter is not opposed to development in the area, she said the density of the project will have a detrimental impact on the nearby area – which has seen significant growth in recent years.

“I think it’s worthwhile for the city to defend its position and demand less density,” she said. “Obviously, they didn’t – they chose not to go that route and not spend the money, which I think would be a very bad decision in the long run.”

Another resident, Ray Ash, raised concerns about the impact the development could have on shoreline wildlife and expressed frustration with the council and the settlement’s developers.

Ashe said Orillia’s former mayor, Steve Clarke, suggested a group of residents hire their own planner to evaluate the project and told the group that Orchard Point had done its part to intensify the local area. A force, and the group “has a very strong power to promote the development of this project.”

“One of the major factors is that this building does not comply with any of the city’s regulations for building anywhere in the city, (and) it does not comply with any of the regulations associated with Orchard Point,” Ashe said. “It was strongly suggested that we hire an urban planner, so we did that, but what was the end result? It made absolutely no sense.

Ashe said he, like many other residents, is frustrated with city hall and developers.

“It tells us a lot: The feelings, concerns and interests of hundreds of people on this block don’t mean anything to City Hall, they don’t mean anything to Curran — it’s not one thing,” he said.

Kelan Development Corporation declined to comment for this story.





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