Expansion of seniors housing project in Rockwood gets initial support at county level

·2 min read

COUNTY OF WELLINGTON – Wellington County’s social services committee is recommending support for a project to expanding senior’s housing in Guelph/Eramosa.

Eramosa Non-Profit Housing Corp. (ENPHC), who run Squire’s Lodge in Rockwood, have been planning to build a new 24-unit affordable housing development on the same property of their existing 26-unit building.

Michele Dawe, ENPHC board director, and consultant Tim Welch asked for financial support from the county at Wednesday’s social services committee meeting.

ENPHC was looking for development charge fees to be waived, $50,000 for pre-development costs, consideration of rent supplements and to freeze property tax rate for the next 20 years.

Welch said a third of the new units will be priced at 80 per cent of market rent. The others will be a little pricier but still below market.

He said there is an obvious demand for this housing based on the existing waiting list.

“They already got more than 50 people on their waiting list at the existing building and get lots of regular contacts for seniors needing new housing,” Welch said.

“I emphasize we will need the assistance from the county to make sure the project can move forward without any major capital funding from the federal/provincial government.”

The committee was in support of helping this project with warden Kelly Linton commenting there was no question how needed seniors’ housing is in Wellington County.

Guelph/Eramosa mayor Chris White appreciated the committee’s support as Guelph/Eramosa council has previously agreed to waive development charges for the property.

He noted the project is cost effective, has full support from the Township of Guelph/Eramosa, looks good architecturally and is right beside a medical centre.

“On a thousand levels, you’d be really hard pressed to find something that’s not good about this project,” White said.

Mark Poste, director of housing, said staff are recommending a 20-year deferral of development charges and to directly support the soft costs up to $50,000.

However, he said the county wasn’t in the position to commit to the property tax and rent supplement asks at this point.

“Housing services will continue to work with ENPHC towards their goal of providing more affordable housing options for seniors,” Poste said.

Chair David Anderson said the property tax angle would have to be sent back to staff to determine how it can be done legally.

Treasurer Ken DeHart said ENPHC would have to do an income test on anybody that moves into the property for a tax exemption.

White said there could be other ways to help such as tax rebates or through granting taxes back.

CAO Scott Wilson confirmed staff will look into ways the county can legally help them with property taxes.

The committee approved the recommendation which will be sent to county council.

Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com