The Blue Mountains council has approved a $760,000 increase to the amount it is loaning its municipal housing corporation.
At its committee of the whole meeting on June 7, council voted 7-0 in favour of increasing the town’s loan to the Blue Mountains Attainable Housing Corporation (BMAHC) by $760,000 bringing the total loan commitment to $1.2 million.
The move came after town staff reviewed a presentation council received from BMAHC Executive Director Jennifer Bisley on May 24 and brought forward a report on the corporation’s request for increased funding in order to move the Gateway attainable housing project forward.
BMAHC requested additional loan money in order to ensure it has the necessary financing on hand to operate through the municipal election period and the process to select a builder/designer for the Gateway project.
The first $360,000 of the loan increase will be dependent on the selection of the design builder and the execution of the design development agreement. The next $400,000 will be dependent on Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) funding approval and the execution of the contract with the design builder.
“What the corporation needs is a reliable source of operating funding during the development period,” said Coun. Rob Sampson.
Staff presented council with options to make the loan repayable by the corporation or to make it forgivable. Members of council were supportive of the funding request, but were hesitant to make the loan forgivable.
“In fairness to the taxpayers, I don’t think we need to set a forgivable loan at this time,” said Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon. “It may be something for a future council to look at.”
Sampson, who is also chair of BMAHC agreed and said the corporation should be tasked with finding additional sources of funding for the project. Sampson said there are many options available including provincial sources or even local funding through fundraising efforts.
“Loan forgiveness by the town should be the last [option],” he said.
Mayor Alar Soever said the additional funding is critical to get the project rolling.
“We should do everything in our power to get attainable housing in our community,” said Soever. “There is a need to support the housing corporation until it can get this project built and rents coming in. This project largely should pay for itself.”
The resolution will come to council for final approval at its meeting on June 20.
Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca