Citizens voice concern with expropriation

The design for the new personal care home in Carman. (Supplied photo)

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A conditional use hearing held June 19 in Carman council chambers was packed with people eager to speak out against the new personal care home project in Carman. However, not one person spoke regarding the conditional use but instead focused their efforts on speaking out against the expropriation of seven acres of land from Vicki and Steve Heatherington.

R.M. of Dufferin Reeve George Gray gave attendees examples of conditions they could request.

“They all came back to, they didn’t like the expropriation,” Red River Group President Gordon Daman said. “That was outside the purview of the planning district’s ability in law to even speak to that.”

The controversy regarding the expropriation of land from the Heatheringtons has been a rallying cry.

Although the idea of developing an 80-bed personal care home as part of an “Aging in Place Campus” has always contained plans to renovate the existing Person Care Home, add supportive housing suites, and life lease units that required seven acres of land, opposition grew slowly.

A rallying cry to support the Heatheringtons continues to gather steam, despite the fact the expropriation process is complete and the land is the Town of Carman’s property. The value of the land has not been agreed on by both parties. (See next week’s Carman Valley Leader for more).

“The other phases were always there and part of it because the long term goal was to have the Aging in Place campus that was supported by provincial public policy,” Daman said.

“While it was never hidden, while it was discussed at public meetings… the focus was always on the personal care home (PCH),” he said. “Likely what happened is that everyone just got excited about the PCH because the donations were for the PCH.”

“The donations are not for assisted living, the donations are not for life lease,” he added. “Those are going to be cost recovery and if for some reason they couldn’t be justified in a business plan, they won’t be built.”

Eight people spoke in protest to the expropriation at the conditional use hearing.

“There were no conditions set because there were no conditions asked for,” Daman said.

Land preparation had occurred prior to the hearing, but construction can now begin. (Land for the additional phases will not be cleared until they are approved).

The project also passed an earlier rezoning hearing where members of the public were able to object. The land had to be rezoned from single family to multi-family. About a dozen people spoke at that meeting with about 75 per cent opposed, once again to the expropriation but not the project itself.

It takes 25 objections to trigger a municipal board hearing.

Daman said they will now proceed with construction of the personal care home and have committed to creating an additional buffer around the Hetherington’s existing Lot 1, anywhere from 90 to 120 feet (east and south).

They’ve also stated that should future phases of the project not proceed the Hetherington’s will have the option, under law (Expropriation Act), to reacquire the land in a first position and work toward an agreement that would facilitate the landowners to continue to enjoy the undeveloped area/open space (without developing themselves) or open space until future phases are underway.

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