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Stouffville council endorses MZO for 5-storey dementia care home next to Rupert Park

Mayor Iain Lovatt, some local residents not in favour of Ministerial Zoning Order for project
Aug. 3, 2021
Simon Martin

Big changes appear to be on the tap for 465 Rupert Ave. in Stouffville.

The apartment just west of Rupert Park looks to be in its last days with a new five-storey, 120-resident home designed for people with dementia being proposed.

AlexisNext had its Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) for the site endorsed by Stouffville council at the July 20 council meeting.  

William Egi, who is heading up the project, has been hearing about the need for more homes for people with dementia since he was a kid. His mother started Alexis Lodge in Scarborough, and he remembers going there on weekends and hearing the horror stories about people trying to find a place for loved ones with dementia.

“People are ready to fix the problem of elder care,” he said. “What’s missing in this marketplace, what is missing for people, is a product that is built specifically for them.”

Egi is planning to build a flagship facility at the site, the location of the original Parkview Nursing Home.

He views it as the natural progression of the site returning to its roots. The new facility would feature state-of-the-art technology to help personal support workers (PSWs), Egi said.

“PSWs are the true superstars of these homes,” he said.

Egi and his team said they need an MZO for the project to expedite planning approvals. While the site is zoned for institutional use, the MZO would allow AlexisNext to increase the maximum height of the building from 12 metres to 20 metres and reduce the minimum lot frontage from 30 metres to 20 metres.

Some local residents that took part in a public meeting July 13 raised questions about why an MZO bypassing public planning procedures for the project was necessary.

They weren’t the only ones.

Mayor Iain Lovatt voiced his opposition to the MZO at the July 20 council meeting.

“I’m not opposed to the vision, but I’m not supportive of your request for a zoning order,” he said.

While Lovatt said Egi was completely in his right to go for a MZO, Lovatt said he feels it's a matter for the public planning process.

The rest of council didn’t back Lovatt and endorsed the MZO for the site.

“I am certainly excited about what you are going to bring to the community,” Ward 6 Coun. Sue Sherban said.

Ward 4 Coun. Rick Upton insisted AlexisNext host a public meeting with area residents before he endorsed an MZO.

The next step in the process is waiting to hear if the province approves the request for the MZO.

At the July meeting, residents expressed concerns including increased traffic, building height, parking, construction timeline and garbage disposal.

Egi said there are 10 remaining residents at the current facility, and they‘re working through the legal landlord tenant process.

He said if everything goes well, they would like to break ground on the project in October.

Egi said they have a two-year construction timeline for the project.

In February of 2020, 36 residents at the building on 465 Rupert Ave. were served eviction notices.

“We are going to fight them tooth and nail on this,” resident Kevin Stromberg said at the time.

The pandemic delayed the evictions, which was a little good fortune, said Upton, because it allowed residents a little more time to find a new place to live.

Many of the residents in the area remembered the lengthy delays faced by the building next door and wondered if they should expect the same thing at AlexisNext.

Glengrove on the Park experienced numerous delays. Approved by council in 2006, it didn't open its doors until 2018.

While the project was run by William’s father, Anthony Egi, who recently passed away, William said similar delays are not expected.