All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Saturday, December 5th, 2020

‘Age in Place’ development plan too hasty

I’m concerned with the hasty “development plan” process for the “Age in Place” McFarland lands, particularly the absence of any substantive research on potential uses and the lack of any technical studies on hard servicing issues such as access roads, serviceability issues such as sewer capacity, storm water management facilities, etc.

1. No substantive research on the types of housing and facilities on the site which could meet the needs of our aging population
There has been no consultation with our local community agencies that provide services to seniors in our community to seek  input on what an “Age in Place” community should look like , i.e. what sorts of housing and support facilities should be promoted on this important 25 acre piece of public land to serve the needs of our aging population. Aside from the McFarland Home itself and the proposed retirement home facilities, the remaining blobs on the design options are simply that…just blobs.

The Official Plan requires  that the development plan will show the “distribution of uses, intensity of uses…any land division, phasing of development”. The proposed development plan contains none of this information. More work needs to be done.

2. Two development plan options should be pursued…one with a hospital/medical centre and one without.
The hospital/medical/institutional blob remains on the two recent  design  options (4 and 5) despite the fact that, in my view and in the view of many others,  a new hospital on this site is a dead issue. Further, the concept of centralizing  the  family health team in a medical centre on this site, somehow folded  into the new hospital building,  seems to have been abandoned.

Without a hospital on site, the medical centre idea has no traction.

The preferred option should contain a mix of various residential uses serving as part of the continuum of care envisaged for the “Age in Place” site,  thus creating a residential neighbourhood feeling rather than an institutional one. Consultation with knowledgeable community agencies working with seniors is required.

3. Affordable housing
The attainment of one third of  all self-contained units on the site as “affordable housing”
should be a priority. The Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Working Group(PECAHWG), the Prince Edward/Lennox & Addington (PELA) social housing group and other non-profit providers in the community should be consulted to discuss the specific housing needs of seniors. ( PECAHWG commissioned a study resulting in a Strategic Action Plan for Affordable Housing, adopted in principle by Council in the spring of 2011, and PELA has recently completed a draft long term affordable housing plan). Both plans discuss in some detail the housing and support needs of aging residents.

Additionally  Council should be negotiating with Nautilus Homes, the developer of the proposed retirement home, to provide a certain number of retirement units  at an affordable price. The current projected price of $3200 per month ( including three meals)  is way beyond  the reach of seniors who are living on federal pensions alone. And the $3200  is basic, i.e. any assisted living charges would be on top of this.

4. Access
The only factors in the plans which appear to be fixed are the roads…..and there have been no access studies,  no traffic studies to determine whether the proposed southerly access route in Option 5 is feasible.

Clearly the southerly road would negatively impact residents of the McFarland Home and the idea proposed earlier of construction of a 9 foot high acoustic wall between the road and the home is ridiculous.

The Official Plan says that the development plan will show “serviceability, including storm water management facilities, access” and that the plan may require the following studies:”Traffic, servicing and storm water management, noise, archaeological analysis, environmental assessment, environmental site assessment.”

It is my understanding that none of the above-mentioned studies have been undertaken.

5. Storm water management
Options 4 and 5 propose that the collection of storm water on the site be managed through creating a natural wetland near the front of  McFarland House.

In my view, this could possibly pose a public health risk, particularly for frail seniors with compromised  immune systems. The pooling of still water attractive to mosquitoes in  an area adjacent to the outdoor courtyard where residents gather in the nice weather could potentially have West Nile Virus complications.

6. Servicing, sewer capacity
The Official Plan states that the “Development Plan will show: …serviceability, including storm water management facilities”.

The plan doesn’t deal with “serviceability”. At the first meeting someone said that she had  heard that Picton had a  sewage capacity problem. To date this question has never been answered.

7. Picton By-pass  shown in Option 5 is a figment of someone’s imagination!
Option 5 shows a Picton By-pass along the Milennium Trail at the rear  of the McFarland site. In this option, the design of the access road through the site seems to be aimed at teaming up with this by-pass road at the rear.

Just who on County staff is giving the consultants this kind of incorrect information?

The recently completed Picton Secondary Plan  designates the Milennium Trail as Parks and Open Space.    Schedule B, the Secondary Plan Transportation Map does not indicate the Millenium trail as a possible future  by-pass. The only road possibility shown on Schedule B is a possible local road connection between Fawcettville Road and the McFarland site sometime in the future as the site redevelops. The Plan clearly encourages more connections to the trail for pedestrian use, not cars.

Conclusion:
The Official Plan policies for the site  call for a substantive examination of real potential “Age in Place” uses, real details on the access, servicing, traffic and sewer issues  and real affordable housing issues in order to put together a “development plan” for the site that will address the real needs of the aging Prince Edward County population.

This is not happening!
Pat Zolf

Filed Under: Letters and OpinionNews from Everywhere Else

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  1. Catherine Reilly says:

    I’ve been looking for an assisted living situation for my mother to move here from Winnipeg. The cost of $3200 per month seems pretty much in line with other offerings in the area. There are other lower cost situations in PEC, but I found they were all a little “shabby”. However, they were clean and seemed to meet basic standards. I found that most of the assisted living places including the the lower cost ones had vacancies. My sense is that many older people who are candidates for assisted living here have quite low incomes and families in the area who are willing to help. So … they stay in their homes until they need to go to a nursing or personal care home where they can qualify for financial assistance under OHIP.

    There are many retirees who have moved here in the last 15-10 years who might eventually need more assistance. My question is … will they want to live here or seek accommodation closer to where they have family?

    My concern is that if we go ahead with more assisted living accommodation, what will happen to the places that are already struggling to keep all of their rooms occupied?

    In order to meet the needs of low income seniors, some kind of funding is going to be needed to subsidize the rent. This is a bigger issue than the establishment of the physical plant.

  2. Renia, I also was pleased to see representatives from various seniors groups interested in housing at the meeting (an in municipal support for affordable housing). Sometimes in the County, those interested in similar goals tend to dig in their heels and silo into their own subgroups. It would be great here o keep up this momentum and collectivize our efforts…. including those with government affiliations. If we are to mirror what we understand to be the “community” values of the County, we need to continue to work toward collectivization and mutual support in honest,generous and yes still passionate ways. There are so many active and intelligent people here lets find a way to work together on this project in ways that make the best of each of your strengths! Maybe our sheer energy will enthuse council!

  3. Jennifer Sturgeon says:

    I concur with the above comments.
    I too attended the Age-in-Place Open House on July 30– and was disappointed that there was no question and answer period to clarify a number of uncertainties.
    It was apparent to me that the master Plan is being rushed through. The consulting company hired to prepare the Plan admit they are on a tight timeframe – to be concluded by the end of August. They are working with a number of unknowns and some unrealistic projections: a new hospital?? a new Picton bypass along the millenium trail??
    I can only conclude that this Master Plan is being rushed through to accommodate the sale of part of the lands to Nautical Lands Group. Nautical build higher-end retirement homes – is that a priority need in The County?
    This property could become an exemplory age-in-place community based on community needs, with potential collaboration between various community organisations, who should be consulted. This takes time.
    County Council – let’s slow down and get it right!

  4. Pushing through a development of this scale, without the time required for the general public to grasp the scope of the problems associated with it, is fundamentally an anti-democratic move on the part of Administration and Council. But then, in camera meetings with developers is also in that category.
    How many signatures would be needed on a petition to slow this down? I expect with the growing concern about seniors housing and care in this area — and nationwide — this would be recognised as the lightning rod issue for many local flashpoints that it is. Another case of shamefully wasted potential.
    A well-thought out development is one that fully addresses the real needs of the future residents, is tailored to their incomes, and more than just “storage facilities,” the expression used several times at the PAL co-housing meeting this afternoon. At the Picton library today, 30 local residents started a conversation about what is seriously lacking in this municipality’s approach (the PAL lodges in Toronto, Vancouver, and severally other localities, are municipally-owned).
    Surely in an area with the demographic of the County, our Shire Hall decision-makers can do better — a lot better.

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