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Barrie firm pulls out of MBL project, halting development plans

Georgian Communities tells town it's no longer intersted, mayor says move allows Midland to consider how best to turn 'these premier waterfront lands into a beautiful, welcoming space for our residents and visitors'
2020-07-29 ap
Only time will tell what the future holds for Midland Bay Landing. Andrew Philips/MidlandToday

The current Midland Bay Landing Development project has been stopped after the developer told the town it's no longer interested.

The decision by Barrie-based Georgian Communities Inc. also means two planned public engagement sessions slated for next month have been cancelled.

“The town will take this opportunity to consider options for the redevelopment of the Midland Bay Landing property,” Mayor Bill Gordon said.

“With the current project being stopped, it allows the town to evaluate the financial impact, then consider reengaging developers and the community on the development of these premier waterfront lands into a beautiful, welcoming space for our residents and visitors.”

Gordon and a number of incoming councillors, who were elected to council last fall, supported pausing the development to ensure residents had a chance to have their voices heard. Outgoing mayor Stewart Strathearn, a number of other defeated candidates and Midland Bay Landing Development Board chair Bill Kernohan wanted to move ahead with the project and have public talks after the deal had been formally signed by all parties.

Georgian’s move also follows the departure Friday of CAO David Denault, who was said to be a major proponent of the development.

In the coming weeks, the town says it plans to begin discussions regarding the future of the redevelopment project and the Midland Bay Landing Development Corporation.

The town purchased the 40-acre property from Unimin in 2013 for $4 million, plus a portion of the cost of a phase 2 environment assessment to confirm the property is free of any contamination.

Council selected Georgian Communities Inc. at a special closed meeting last July following evaluation of proposals submitted by three short-listed developers.

“Georgian Communities’ concept for Midland Bay Landing creatively builds on and enriches the current Master Plan, which was developed through extensive public engagement with residents,” the town and Midland Bay Landing Development Corp. (MBLDC) said in a joint statement at the time.

Financially, Georgian’s proposal pays the town a purchase price in the development’s first phase that “exceeds the town’s acquisition cost of the whole property,” Kernohan told MidlandToday at the time.

“In addition, Georgian will construct the promenade and park space in phase 1, a signature feature of the redevelopment, at no cost to the town, further enhancing the town’s return on  investment,” he said. “When phase 2 lands are purchased, the town will receive additional funds.”

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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