John Hawley is hoping doctors of the family health team will be settled in their new location by next April.
The Village Centre developer was at a virtual planning committee meeting Monday to update council on the new medical building he is planning, and to request permission to allow construction to begin before a full building permit is issued.
If he has to wait for the normal process to unfold, including having all agencies review building plans and respond with their comments, it could be fall, 2022 before the one-storey medical centre, with a pergola for LifeLabs, is move-in ready, he told councillors.
A building permit and set of drawings for the medical centre, which faces Garrison Village Drive, are ready for submission now, Hawley said, assuring councillors that if there is any risk to proceeding with a conditional building permit, it would be for him, not the town. Occupancy would not be permitted until the site plan is finalized and all conditions are met, he said.
He’s had several discussions with town staff, he told councillors, and doctors of the Niagara North Family Health Team now located in the former hospital building on Wellington Street, as well as LifeLabs, would like to relocate as soon as possible. That would also free up the hospital as the town tries to find a permanent use for that building, Hawley said.
Lord Mayor Betty Disero said she supported the request, and was not concerned about a precedent of moving forward with a conditional building permit, with all requirements able to be accommodated without site plan approval.
“I think we’re now moving to try to find what we’re going to do with the hospital, and holding this up even longer is contrary to what we would like to see, as a town and council,” Disero said. “I’m very supportive of getting the shovel in the ground. It’s a win all around for Mr. Hawley, for doctors, for the town and for the residents.”
When asked, town planning director Craig Larmour said if there is any risk, it’s associated with the developer and owner of the property. There is not much risk in this case, he added, because of all the work that’s occurred on the site already.
“It’s a win-win for doctors and the community, and for all the patients who go to these doctors,” said Coun. Wendy Cheropita, as well as for everyone who will have access to LifeLabs. “When the developer is taking on all the risks, and all the benefits are for everyone else, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity, and we should thank the developer for being a part of this.”
Councillors voted unanimously to support granting a conditional building permit for the proposed medical building that forms a part of the Village Centre site plan, and that the occupancy of the building should not occur until the final site plan is approved.