Affordable-housing project in Riverdale gets nod from council

·2 min read

An affordable-housing project in the Riverdale neighbourhood is likely to move ahead after council's executive committee approved a land sale at a meeting Monday.

The city intends to sell five plots of land at 92nd Street at 102nd Avenue to Right at Home Housing Society for $5.

The non-profit proposes to build 10 units in two duplexes and three semi-detached homes to rent at near-market value.

Mayor Don Iveson said the project helps fulfil the city's goal to expand affordable housing throughout the city.

In Aug. 2018, council agreed that 16 per cent of each Edmonton neighbourhood should be affordable housing.

"We need to make sure we're not always buying land in neighbourhoods where land is the cheapest because the neighbourhoods are struggling," Iveson said.

Coun. Scott McKeen acknowledged the proposal for Riverdale hasn't been universally popular.

The city held public information sessions with Riverdale residents in January and February 2019.

"There was some conflict and some concern and emotion," McKeen said. "That has dropped off significantly."

The neighbourhood has a cross section of vibrant activity with artists, musicians and community gardening, McKeen noted.

"Riverdale might be the poster child for diverse mixed communities. It might not be as diverse from a multi-cultural sense but certainly from a mix of socio-economic families."

In the deal, the city absorbs a net loss of $98,350 as it foregoes selling the land for an estimated $1.6 to $1.8 million. Once developed, the non-profit will pay property taxes generating an estimated $20,000 and $50,000 a year, the report says.

The non-profit needs to build the units within three years of the proposed closing date of July 30, 2021, as stated in the agreement.

If construction has not started by that date, the city can buy back the land.

City administrators and Right At Home Housing Society are drafting the sales agreement, buy-back option and the affordable-housing agreement.

As a condition of the sale, Right at Home Housing Society is obliged to inform community members of its plan.