At the chime of the gong sounded by Lawrence Stibbards the ceremonial ribbon was cut at the Abbey Retreat Centre on the Abbey Gardens property Wednesday May 16. From left MP Jamie Schmale ARC board member Sheila-Mae Young board member Thea Patterson board chair Joy Davey Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine president and CEO Bob Bernhardt and Dysart et al Mayor Murray Fearrey. /JENN WATT Staff

Retirement facility proposed for Haliburton

By Chad Ingram

Published Sept. 25 2018

A retirement facility one offering both independent and assisted-living units is being proposed for 1 Sunnyside St. in Haliburton the “old college property” where condominium projects had previously been proposed but did not come to fruition.
Bill Mardimae of Gardens Retirement Development Inc. visited Dysart et al councillors during a Sept. 24 meeting.
Mayor Murray Fearrey said the municipality has been trying to attract builders of seniors’ residences to the community.
“We talked to everyone that’s in that business to come to Haliburton” Fearrey said. “We’ve been working on this for a long long time.”
“We toured all of Minden looked at different sites” Mardimae told the room. “Toured Haliburton. From that we really honed in on Haliburton.”
His company has constructed retirement facilities in numerous communities including Parry Sound and Uxbridge.
“We do smaller retirement homes in smaller communities” Mardimae said.

The proposal includes plans for a four-storey facility with a possible walk-out basement. Soil testing is to be completed on the property to see what is possible.
Mardimae said that previous OMB rulings regarding previous proposals for the property had been taken into consideration. The gross square footage of the project would be approximately 75000 or about half of one of the previously proposed condominium buildings.
The facility to be built in two phases would include a total of approximately 120 units – 75 or so constructed in the first phase.
Building in phases is less capital intensive Mardimae said and “then we have a better read on the market” indicating that based on reaction to the first phase what the community needs and desires can be incorporated into the second.
Units consisting of either single bedrooms or bedrooms grouped with sitting areas would be rented by tenants and main floors would include common areas dining facilities theatre chapel etc. There would be a mixture of independent living and assisted-living units and Mardimae explained that his company’s facilities are designed to allow seniors to age in place.
The company has a conditional offer in on the property and while it is believed the proposal complies with the property’s existing zoning is looking for three minor variances to proceed with the project.
One would be a reduction in minimum size of units from 50 square metres to 40 square metres – which equates to approximately 430 square feet. Mardimae said unit size in his company’s facilities typically range from about 350 to 600 square feet in size.

Another minor variance would request the number of required parking spaces be reduced from 1.2 parking stalls per unit to 0.5.
“The average age is about 86 so very few residents drive” Mardimae said adding that one of the company’s existing buildings has a ratio of 0.4 parking spaces per unit. He added he’d rather see most of the property remain green rather than black and said there would be additional space on the property to construct more parking space should it be required in the future.
“We have a bus for the residents that takes them off-site and back on” Mardimae said.
A third minor variance request is to reduce the number of required loading areas from two to one.
“We have maybe a couple of deliveries a week” Mardimae said.
Planning staff said notification of the variance applications would be circulated this week as per the public planning process and would come before the municipality’s committee of adjustment on Oct. 10.
Mardimae said his hope was that construction would commence in the spring.
“It’s a 2019 project in our eyes” he said.
Councillor Dennis Casey asked what the monthly rental rate would be.
“We don’t have a number yet” Mardimae said. He said fees typically range between $3000 and $5000 per month depending on the type of unit. That includes care three a meals a day in the dining room and other services.

“This is really so exciting” said Deputy Mayor Andrea Roberts. “We know this is a need in our community.”
Roberts asked Mardimae if his company was strictly the builder or the builder and operator of its facilities.
Mardimae said the operation of the facilities is contracted out to a Stouffville-based company Elder Care.
Roberts asked how many jobs might be created by the facility. Mardimae said likely about 30 a combination of full-time and part-time positions. The facilities are staffed around the clock.
Fearrey said some of the community’s older residents moving into the proposed facility should mean freeing up some local housing stock.
“They allow young families to buy them” he said.
Fearrey added the construction process could also create some jobs for tradespeople.
“There’s jobs there . . . if you’re competitive you’re going to have a chance” he said.