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Big expansion for Kawartha Downs would include amphitheatre, hotel, fairground and 588 homes

·3 min read

Romspen Investment Corp., the owner of Kawartha Downs Raceway and Shorelines Slots at Kawartha Downs site, is planning a major redevelopment of the Fraserville site and surrounding land.

The proposed revitalization would include an expanded gaming operation, a hotel, a multi-purpose indoor concert facility, outdoor concert facilities and an entertainment amphitheatre, “the Southern Ontario Agricultural Fairground,” sports facilities, soccer fields, tractor pull track, overflow parking — and 588 new residential homes.

At Cavan Monaghan Township’s council meeting on Monday, representatives of the Toronto-based company will ask council to endorse the company’s request for a provincial minister’s zoning order (MZO) for the property on 115 acres on County Road 28 and Moore Drive, so it can move ahead quickly with the sprawling project.

Under the Ontario Planning Act, an MZO can be issued by the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs to protect a provincial interest or to help overcome potential barriers or delays to development of “critical” projects, according to the ministry’s website.

If there is a conflict between a minister’s zoning order and a municipal bylaw, the MZO prevails. The ministry also expects that requests for zoning orders include a supporting municipal council resolution.

The company is specifically asking the township council to adopt resolutions to support its request for a MZO and that township staff work with the company to draft a redevelopment agreement by early 2022.

One of the benefits to the township if the MZO is approved by the province would be the acceleration of water and sewer services to important employment areas without using municipal funding, states Romspen in a report to be presented to council.

It says it is also committed “to bringing services to the Peterborough Airport, recognizing the unique opportunity to service the airport and development lands associated with the airport that will benefit the entire county and beyond.”

Romspen also touts benefits from the plan including employment opportunities on the Kawartha Downs site and elsewhere in the Peterborough area, maintaining lands designated as naturally sensitive areas, improving the township’s tax base and contributing to the availability of housing options in the area, states the report.

Kawartha Downs was sold to Romspen in June 2019. It was the mortgage lender to Kawartha Downs’ previous owner, Skip Ambrose, who owed the company $97.3 million for Kawartha Downs and his 15 other businesses. The facility went into receivership, and RIC then attempted to sell the property for nearly two years. Eventually, Romspen bought the track.

The project’s residential component is meant to serve the housing needs of the employees of the jobs created by the expansion, the proposal states.

The 588 new homes would provide a mix of housing, fully serviced with streets and sidewalks: 193 townhouses, 272 semi-detached homes, and 123 detached homes. The residential development would not proceed until the revitalization of the entertainment component is completed.

“The proposal considers that existing infrastructure has already been planned in anticipation of the development of the subject lands for commercial entertainment land use, as designated in the township’s official plan,” states the proposal.

“The sanitary sewer on County Road 28 will provide for future servicing south from Highway 115, along with road improvements to service the Peterborough Airport. Site servicing for the project is anticipated to proceed by private and municipal water and sewer by extending existing infrastructure to the property.

“The provision of private and public services is being planned to service the project ... the subject lands can be serviced from sanitary and water systems on County Road 28, which would also serve the airport.”

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at bburke@metroland.com.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner

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