Dysart considers plan to turn motel into housing

·3 min read

Dysart et al council expressed concerns with a Places for People proposal to turn Lakeview Motel into a new affordable housing development.

City of Kawartha Lakes (CKL) housing program supervisor, Michelle Corley, presented to council Feb. 23 about the proposal to rehabilitate the motel into 15 affordable housing units, including 12 bachelor suites. As part of the CKL-Haliburton affordable housing program, Corley sought approximately $45,268 from Dysart in waived building fees and exemptions. But council delayed approval for staff to review the plan further.

Mayor Andrea Roberts said they only have about $10,000 that could be used for affordable housing in the 2021 budget under economic development.

“Very large contribution. We don’t have any reserves for that,” Roberts said.

The proposal is part of an overarching Affordable Housing Target Program, spurring development with government incentives. Corley said the project is also contingent on a $150,000 interest-free forgivable loan from the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative.

The project is separate from an affordable build Places for People is also proposing on Wallings Road municipal land, which

Dysart council provided in-principal support for. Coun. John Smith said the Wallings Road project is more aligned with the municipal vision. He said he takes issue with converting the motel, given the need for summer tourism accommodations.

“I struggle with, on a conceptual level, how this really advances the wellbeing of our community,” Smith said.

Roberts said they cannot get into that philosophy and council’s responsibility is to examine what Dysart’s contribution should be.

The Lakeview Motel went on the market in November, with its owners planning to retire.

Coun. Larry Clarke said he was concerned about whether the development would provide for locals versus being taken up by people from outside the community through the housing program, which has a waiting list with both County and CKL residents.

“To have it targeted for people looking for affordable housing, that are not going to be part of our economy here, to me is a concern,” Clarke said.

Corley said people on the waiting list often choose communities they are familiar with, but it is not a guarantee. She further said council should keep in mind they plan to have a quarterly intake, with more projects to come. The County aims to create 750 new affordable units within the next 10 years.

“We are really trying to work hard toward meeting and achieving these targets,” she said. “There’s the hope we can eventually have a plan within budgets or other planning and development policies that when it comes to affordable housing, there’s kind of a clear standard on what incentives could be offered.”

Roberts said she wants to get clarification from staff around the equivalent residential unit (ERU) calculation. The development is requesting an exemption for adding seven additional ERUs, amounting to $32,900.

Council voted to receive the report. Roberts asked staff to bring it back to the next committee of the whole meeting March 9.

Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander