Rezoning for new Holland College residence gets unanimous approval from Charlottetown council

Rezoning for new Holland College residence gets unanimous approval from Charlottetown council

The City of Charlottetown has approved rezoning to build a new Holland College residence at the corner of Grafton and Cumberland streets.

The college plans to demolish seven buildings for the development, which include low-income apartments, a Middle Eastern restaurant and an Asian grocery store.

The rezoning passed unanimously with a vote of 5-0 at a third and final reading of the bylaw at a special council meeting Friday.

'We need more residence beds'

The new residence would consist of a four-storey building with 81 beds.

"As of today, we have a wait list of 175 students for Glendenning Hall, and all 186 beds filled for this fall," said Michael O'Grady, the college's vice-president responsible for innovation, enterprise and strategic development.

"We know that this fall, students will be choosing not to attend Holland College because of a lack of residence space. So, if the college is actually to continue to sustain itself, not even grow, we need more residence beds."

Concerns over loss of low-income housing

The plan has been met with opposition by the current tenants in the building, and people in the neighbourhood concerned about the loss of the housing.

"I'm on a disability myself," shared resident Darren Costain. "I take in a small cheque, the girlfriend works as a community care person, and she don't take in that much money herself, and we pay $600 a month and that's with heat."

"We don't object it, it's not our private property," added resident Madan Giri. "But, the other thing is, they could have taken concern about those tenants, those who are living in the property for so many years."

"So far, we don't have a place to go. We haven't got any sort of eviction notice from anyone so far. The most ridiculous thing is, we haven't heard anything from our landlord, even to this day."

The purchase of the buildings has been contingent on the rezoning, said the college. The owner of the buildings has declined past requests to speak to CBC.

The college has said when the purchase is complete, it will help residents locate new housing.

'We're not callous,' says city

The city said it understands the residents' concerns, and didn't take the decision lightly.

We're not callous," explained Greg Rivard, chair of the city's planning committee. "We're understand that. It was very difficult and council took it very seriously, and we're going to take it seriously hopefully long term and find a long term solution with the province and with the federal government in hopes of providing housing that these folks can be proud of."

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