The Blue Mountains Attainable Housing Corporation (BMAHC) is seeking co-investment from The Town of The Blue Mountains (TBM) on its planned attainable housing project at 171 King Street East.
The housing corporation is asking the town to kick in four per cent of the project's estimated cost of $36.7 million.
Mylene Vincent, Principal of Real Estate Development with SHS Consulting, gave a deputation to council earlier this month on the requests that BMAHC has for the town.
“We're looking for some standard investment from the town – things that we see in many other municipalities,” Vincent said. “But to make sure that it is a sustainable ask for the town, we're finding ways and opportunity costs to help relieve the pressure off of the tax base of the town.”
Vincent proposed a number of ways the town could invest in the project, which include:
The report presented by Vincent stated that any funding received would be contingent upon completing the project as intended, and on maintaining attainable rent levels for a minimum of 20 years.
Current plans for the development include 84 rental units and 12,500 square feet of commercial space.
Rental rates are expected to be $966 per month for a one-bedroom unit, $1,086 for a two-bedroom unit, and $1,975 for a three-bedroom unit.
Part of the reason BMAHC is looking for investment from TBM is that a number of federal funding programs require co-investment from a different level of government.
“It's important to flag that co-investment from other levels of government is tremendously important, and an eligibility requirement for the funding sources that we're seeking at the federal government level,” she said.
“The program that we will be seeking funding from is called the National Housing Co-Investment Fund. And so they actually put it in the title of the program, that they require a source of co-investment and they've further specified that [it’s] meant to come at a different level of government.”
Vincent said that up to 92 per cent of the project's cost could be covered by various federal sources.
"We're estimating that, of this $36.7 million, 92 per cent of it will come from various sources at the federal government level," she said.
She also suggested the town could recover its investment cost by implementing new development charges for non-attainable housing developments.
“How we will relieve the tax base is to come up with new solutions,” she said. “We are asking that the town might consider implementing a new development charge to support the development of attainable housing in The Blue Mountains.”
Councillor and BMAHC representative Rob Sampson agreed that a development charge on ‘low-density, high-square-footage’ homes should be implemented, and the revenue generated should be reinvested into attainable housing projects.
“Part of the problem we're facing is that the low-density, high-square-footage homes are being built in the town, occupying land that could be used for a higher-density type of investment,” he said. “And so our view is that the council should consider whether or not those low-density, high-square-footage, and also high-priced, homes should carry some of the extra costs associated with the town.”
“Like we charge [...] for the building of other civic infrastructure, water, wastewater, sewer, roads, municipal buildings, etc, perhaps certain components of our future builds should also fund the town’s and other people's investment in attainable infrastructure, which is just as critical to the success and the future of this town.”
Councillor Andrea Matrosovs viewed the proposed development charge favourably, seeing it as an incentive for developers to create attainable housing.
“We can always make sure that it’s always more attractive [for developers to include their own] version of attainable and mixed housing, but if they’re not going to then to have to ante up and contribute it through the DC (development charge) conversations we’re having,” she said.
Matrosovs also highlighted how it is important for the town to invest directly in the attainable housing project.
“It’s our civic responsibility for our governance here and in our municipality to put our own foot forward and put our own investment for it,” she said. “We can’t just wash our hands and say all the developers have to take care of this.”
Council directed staff to prepare a report regarding the viability of BMAHC’s requested investments, and for staff to return to council with a plan for implementing a new development charge.
Greg McGrath Goudie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca