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Affordable Housing Network to present business plan for Wellington Country Village

A business plan for affordable housing at a ‘Wellington Country Village’ will be brought before councillors at Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting.

Barry Davidson and Anthony Lemke, on behalf of the Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Network, will present a plan that requests the former arena be demolished, and land at Niles and Maple streets in Wellington be given to the network to build affordable housing.

The network was formed following a public meeting in March to discuss affordable housing in three categories – home ownership, long-term rental and for seasonal workers. The group has approximately $850,000 in commitments from various community members, with a target of $1 million.

The plan is to build 26 houses – nine subsidized and 17 market value. The site plan shows 14 houses with parking behind, and an internal street for the other 12. Habitat for Humanity would build four of the houses. The profit from the market value houses is proposed to pay the $816,000 pre-development and $798,000 infrastructure costs for the development so the subsidized units would absorb none of the costs.

The market value houses are proposed to be built at $200-$220 per square foot and sold at a 23 per cent markup; the subsidized houses at $165-$175 per square foot, and sold at cost.

A two storey, two bedroom subsidized semi would be $248,000.

The report states budget accounts for the following unit counts:
– 2 two-story, subsidized semi-detached townhomes, 2 bedroom, 1500 sq ft
– 3 three-story, subsidized semi-detached townhomes, 3 bedroom, 2150 sq ft
– 4 two-story, free market semi-detached townhomes, 2 bedroom, 1500 sq ft
– 7 three-story, free market semi-detached townhomes, 3 bedroom, 2150 sq ft
– 3 two-story, free market detached, 2 bedroom, 1500 sq ft
– 3 three-story, free market detached, 3 bedroom, 2150 sq ft
22 total units covering 41,450 sq ft. When the four subsidized Habitat for Humanity units are added, of the 26 units to be built, nine units or 35 per cent will be subsidized.

“The County has been trying, without success, for four years or more, to find a developer to build affordable housing on this land,” the report states. “These homes could be bought by people as their home, or by social service agencies that want to provide affordable long-term rental accommodation for clients.”

To County is being asked to contribute the land, demolish the arena, waive connection fees and development charges and other fees for the affordable units.

A not-for-profit corporation is being established for the specific ‘Wellington Country Village’ project.

The community group, led by Lemke, of Wharf Lane Inc, and Barry Davidson, of Twelve Trees Development, volunteered to prepare the business plan. It describes the creation of a strong, vibrant and healthy Country Village that is sustainable and attainable for families who live and work in the County. It would contain a mix of subsidized and market value units. The network would be the developer, and Wharf Lane would be contracted to provide project management services.

“The continued response of citizens to volunteer their time and expertise to PECAHN has been gratifying,” the presentation states. “They include a lawyer, accountant, contractor, Belleville affordable housing operator, architect, landscape architect, funding application writer and social media monitor, among others.”

Financing of PECAHN would start with community loans for which an interest rate of four per cent is being considered. If government programs could be secured at attractive rates, the development could proceed further.

Evan Nash, President of the Wellington District Business Association, has provided one of several letters of support to the network.

“The need is profound. The cost of living in our village – including home prices, utility bills, property taxes, is rising at a much faster rate than incomes over the past two decades. It is overwhelming residents’ ability to continue to live in our community.”

He states families and seniors are being left behind and many are retreating to other communities.

“Many more are on the edge. Low income families. Fixed income seniors. There are simply too few low-cost alternatives available in this village, or the County overall,” he said. “A declining County population and dearth of housing stock in general, further compounds the already broken supply and demand picture in this community.”

He urges the municipality to move decisively to clear the old Dukedome site and any contaminants in the ground, and to grant the land to the initiative.

Committee of the Whole meets at 1 p.m. Thursday in Shire Hall.

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  1. Gary says:

    It is about appearing as having done something, and it doesn’t matter how as long as the appearance is there.And they aren’t contemplating selling of public assets, they are considering giving away valuable land and throwing in demolition, environmental cleanup and free development charges. Did the County win the lottery?

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    Mike – thanks for your ideas and support – I sure could have used it last year – but great to have it now. I agree, tax the tourist wherever we can – not to gouge them, but to use them to help us afford to stay here. What council needs to be reminded of is that our community has a declining population and maybe (at best) 12,000 taxpayers -just how much can a community of this size afford and how much debt can we carry? But seeing Council even discussing the possibly of selling off public assets makes me shudder – I don’t have confidence that they have thought this through to the end and where it will leave us. All because an election is coming and now they feel the need to be seen as doing something, anything. I wonder why?

  3. Mike Rodgers says:

    Dennis I agree. Why not a tax for every rental including camp site nightly rentals etc. Spend a night in any city in Canada or the US and look at your bill. A tax over and above HST. If anyone thinks this will hurt tourism they are wrong. Also I think the province should give municipality the right to charge tolls on their roads to help off set repairs. Drive through Chicago, ever county has a toll booth for their section of highway. By the time you get out of the city it cost about 7 bucks.
    How long will HWY 49 last after it is replaced with all the truck traffic from the terminal. The amount of property tax collected compared to the wear it puts on this and other county roads will even cover the cost of patches the roads for a year

  4. Dennis Fox says:

    As this debate on affordable housing unfolds, questions about how to fund it arise. What is bringing a smile to me is the fact that some councillors are now suggesting a “accommodation tax” on AirB&B to help fund these homes. If you recall about a year ago, I wrote several letters suggesting how we could tax tourists to help lighten the load for local taxpayers – these same councillors jumped all over me for suggesting such an idea – one even had a full page rebuttal in “The Times” claiming that my idea would be harmful to business and discourage tourism, causing us more harm than good! Now this same councillor had to go to Halifax for a Municipal Workshop on this topic – now he thinks it s a great idea to tax tourists. The point behind affordable housing is to have other levels of government help us fund these initiatives – not forus to sell off public lands and buildings to accomplish it, nor to give it away either to developers. I don’t think our council gets it.

  5. Gary says:

    This Council needs to stop spending decisions outside of budget. Enough. They should not be tying the hands of the new Council.

  6. Chuck says:

    At Committee of Whole today the Mayor was pushing this forward. They at this stage should just be looking after day to day business and not making big money decisions impacting the next Council which is less than 4 months away.

  7. wevil says:

    i do not feel this property should be given to a private developer
    that property belongs to all tax payers a private developer will make a huge profit if this goes ahead let it all be put into low income housing this developer stands to make a lot of money if we give them everything on a silver platter

  8. Dennis Fox says:

    Affordable housing has become the chant of a few politicians who are singing it for the upcoming municipal election. The issue itself is a very important one for our community and should be treated with a lot more respect and organization than what we are seeing. The idea that this issue is coming forward at this time, before staff have had a chance to investigate the alternatives(namely what funding from a higher level of government is available) is wrong. For this issue to come to council without proper investigation is ridiculous. The desire by the developers(and that is what they are) for the public to give them land and to pay for the connection fees (for a few units in return) is a joke. If council in anyway agrees to this arrangement, then we know there is some major nonsense taking place – and I mean MAJOR!

  9. Vicky says:

    I still cannot afford these houses. You are catering to the tourists. I am only one of the families that have been outed from my home The County. I fear I will never return. Who are these being built for? Not I. So pls stop saying things like affordable housing this is not the solution.

  10. Susan says:

    Speaking of Council actions,what right or role do they have to play in and comment on private enterprise winery issues?

  11. Mike Rodgers says:

    I agree, the land has sat for years when it should of been sold years ago. whats the hurry now, no one should be given public land to make a profit. In this case the people who helped to cause the housing problem are the profiteers. Now if Wharf Lane were willing to forgo any fees and manage the project at no cost I may soften on my opinion. This is our money that they are asking for. If all profits after sales went back into low cost housing else where in the county I would say go for it no question. The track record this council has with real estate is not a good record. Arena that sat for years when it could have been sold and generated tax dollars. A corner store same thing with a big purchase price to own. This one had good intentions to save money on the creek problem but then the public stopped that plan. So I do not think this council should get into the development business but I think that they should sell the arena with conditions that make the developer build affordable housing along with market valve housing and give them a time frame when it all will happen.The county cannot find developers, offer then the land at 1 dollar as it sits. that is a better deal for we the tax payers then what this group is offering

  12. Gary says:

    This lame duck Council has no mandate to entertain this.They shouldn’t walk away they should run. And hire someone who can acquire funding like our neighbor municipalities. We are lost in comparison .

  13. Emily says:

    Where is common sense.Hasting has received millions upon millions for affordable housing. In PEC we give away $1,000,000 property, demolish for $250,000 and pickup unknown soil contamination. And a water/wastewater system in dire straits hands over development fees. To an at profit developer. Who gets the tab?

  14. M Gallagher says:

    Has anyone here been in touch with ‘Options for Homes’ who have a successful record of building non-profit homes and providing some financial assistance? They have developments in Kingston and Toronto. Well worth contacting them.

  15. Chuck says:

    What a deal! Free land,free demolition which is huge $, no connection charges (wonder why we have a water cost crisis)and I suspect provincial/federal grants for the subsidized portion.Do you think the County might need a negotiator?

  16. Tech2 says:

    Isn’t one of the pro affordable housing developers the same person that is building another development at the other end of the Wellington Main Street with $700K plus condos? It seems that the funds raised to date of approx $850K is what will be spent first in ‘pre-development’according to their plan. I hope the investors have some protection if sales don’t go well.

  17. Carol Mulridge says:

    Doesn’t sound like very affordable housing for low and fixed income residents to me!

  18. Argyle says:

    I suggest Wharf Lane Developments purchase a site, build and finance their own development. If as you say the demand is there, you should have no problem renting or selling the units. As for having affordable, low income units available it should be noted that any previous attempts at building some in Welly has been rejected by the residents. They were more than happy to see this type of housing located primarily in Picton. The County should say no to this proposal.

  19. Paul Cole says:

    “land at Niles and Maple streets in Wellington be *GIVEN* to the network to build affordable housing.” Given for 9 affordable housing units of the proposed 26 and “To County is being asked to contribute the land, demolish the arena, waive connection fees and development charges and other fees for the affordable units.” Why would The County not just develop the whole site alone as affordable housing by itself the Federal and Provincial Government do have Affordable Housing initiatives and are developing Affordable Housing strategies. 4 of the Affordable Housing units are being built by Habitat for Humanity and the Developer would build 5 Affordable units. Seems like the big winner here would be Wharf Lane Developments….

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