PICKERING -- Pickering could soon be home to a massive new tourist development that includes a casino, hotel, waterpark, performing arts centre and outdoor amphitheatre.
Earlier this month the City of Pickering received an application to rezone three parcels of land located on the north side of Bayly Street, west of Church Street.
A memo to council says the applicant, Pickering Developments, is looking to rezone the vacant lands to accommodate a tourist destination dubbed â€˜Durham Liveâ€™.
The proposal could potentially include a casino, five-star hotel, convention centre, performing arts centre, outdoor amphitheatre, movie theatre, restaurant plaza, waterpark, boutique hotel, botanical gardens, fitness centre, spa, community recreation centre and commercial offices.
â€œIt will be one of the must go and see destinations in Ontario for young and old alike,â€ reads a planning rationale report for the project. The current zonings on the property allow storage and manufacturing uses, and donâ€™t permit some of the proposed tourism projects, such as a casino or hotel. Since there is no zoning category that allows for all the proposed uses, the aim is to create a site-specific zoning category called â€˜Major Tourist Destinationâ€™.
â€œThis is a very exciting proposal, it bodes well for the city that this sort of investment is looking to locate here,â€ said Councillor David Pickles. â€œWe could be looking at hundreds of millions in investment, tens of thousands in tax dollars...and thousands of jobs. This could end up being the major entertainment centre for Durham.â€
The lands total about 90 hectares. City staff said the applicant is proposing to develop 55 hectares and leave the remaining 35 hectares as â€œnatural heritage systems.â€
Thomas Melymuk, Pickeringâ€™s director of city development, said in an e-mail signs will be posted on the property once the application has been circulated to abutting agencies and land owners.
He said a public information meeting is tentatively planned for April 7, and a City staff recommendation report will follow in June or July.
â€œThis is just the beginning of the process,â€ said Councillor Kevin Ashe.
He said there are many questions to be answered, including how the proposed development might impact traffic and nearby wetlands, and whether Pickering can support more restaurants and retail.
â€œThere are impressive job opportunities and impressive tourism opportunities,â€ Coun. Ashe noted.