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Affordable housing planning tool options to be studied

OCT. 28 UPDATE: Options are on the table as Prince Edward County council has directed municipal staff to explore options to help right a dire affordable and attainable housing situation that they fear will lead to a community of “have and have-nots”.

Following a presentation, Charles Dowdall, executive director of the municipality’s Affordable Housing Corporation, noted the County’s successful promotions of the area as a tourism industry have backfired as seasonal staff can’t find a place to live, and the businesses, in turn, cannot find employees.

All except option five (below) were approved as ways to explore to bring more affordable housing as soon as possible. Staff noted options two through four would be quickest to implement – less than six months while option one, the largest and most time consuming project – would take a longer period of time.

Mayor Steve Ferguson echoed council members’ concern to work quickly and thoroughly, and report back to council if additional resources with staffing are needed.

CAO Marcia Wallace noted a recent attempt to hire a intermediate level planner to assist with projects failed  – in part, due to with the housing market. The municipality will next attempt to seek a junior level planner to assist staff and will make a proposal for how major studies are to be done, at budget time.

 

OCT. 27: Council will discuss planning tools to address affordable and attainable housing issues in Prince Edward County during Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Charles Dowdall, executive director of the County’s Affordable Housing Corporation, is to make a presentation on the current state of housing in the municipality.

He notes that house prices have increased 79 per cent year over year at May 2021, based on
the last real estate national tracking.

“However, reviewing the local listing data for home sales at September 2021, the year over year increase in house prices is calculated at 93 per cent.

“The average house price in the County in September 2021, based on 118 available listings was $1,204.094 based on local real estate tracking and 43 per cent of the homes sold in August and September 2021 were above the list price.”

He notes that in the first quarters of 2021, the affordable housing crisis was fueled by an all-time low of homes for sale combined with the migration of people to the County from metropolitan areas who could work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lack of affordable homes also put unsustainable pressure on the rental market – with a vacancy rate of 0.83 per cent which is well below the provincial and federal average of 2.3 and 2.7 per cent respectively.

Based on a review of 344 rental units in PEC, the average market rents as of Sept. 2021 were: bachelor $1,047; one bedroom $1,448; two bedroom $1,677 and three bedroom $2,376.

Emily Cowan, Community Programs Supervisor, and Michael Michaud, Manager of Planning, along with the Housing Corporation, have prepared detailed considerations they expect should allow solutions through planning.

Six options are on the table:

Option 1 – That council direct staff to review/amend the County’s Secondary Plans with a view to ensuring areas delegated for housing permit mixed housing types and recommend increased desired maximum density populations in settlement areas on full municipal services;

Option 2 – That council direct staff to review the residential sections of the zoning bylaw as compared to the Ontario Building Code and recommend lowering the minimum requirements;

Option 3 – That council direct staff to investigate and recommend a new zone offering more housing creation flexibility to be added to the zoning bylaw, which may include amendments to applicable Secondary Plans;

Option 4 – That council direct staff to examine permitting bunk houses for staff accommodation in certain zones of the zoning bylaw;

(Not approved by council ) Option 5 – That council direct staff to investigate providing forgivable $10,000 income-tested loans funded from the CIP for house purchases under $400,000, and to also investigate the process of updating the current Community Improvement Plan;

(Not approved by council) Option 6 – That council direct staff to create a program which incentivizes the transition of STAs to long-term rentals. (Amended Thursday afternoon to remove: ‘by providing an annual grant equivalent to the property tax upon the signing of a five-year lease and investigate the process for updating the Community Improvement Plan’.)

“By creating a multitude of housing opportunities, the supply of housing available within the County can more effectively respond to local housing needs and changes in demand,” their report states.

The report notes staff did consider other options including offering fee reductions and rebates to developers funded from the Community Improvement Plan reserve.

“The municipality has already tried this approach with a 50 per cent Development Charge reduction program in place for more than five years which yielded little affordable housing development. The current Development Charge regime also offers discounted fees for the development of affordable housing,” the report states.

Another option considered was Inclusionary Zoning, mandating that affordable units be included in a plan of subdivision or similar development.

“This would require approval from the Minister of Municipal Affairs, and the legislative structure directs municipalities to do this through a Community Benefit Charge (a tool better suited to larger cities). Given the process constraints, we do not currently have enough multi-residential apartment style developments to make this worthwhile at this time.”

 

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  1. Matti Kopamees says:

    I’ve had enough!!! It’s simple: ban STAs outright! If you want to rent out rooms in the house you (or a tenant) live in, go for it! Whole home STAs should not even be an option! This means you need two kitchens and separated bathrooms…up to the homeowner to figure it out. Home ownership never was, nor should it be, an INVESTMENT! It’s a place to live. Period. If our elected representatives actually took a stand on this issue and put a choke hold on the city investors – lets see who wins the battle! Enough with the tax breaks and various accommodating policies that pander to no one in particular…Council, make a statement on behalf of the community!!!

  2. Michelle says:

    I think longtime County residents have to take a good look at the profit they would get on a home sale and move on to a more typical residential setting not overrun by tourism. Cost of living is high in the County, particularly water charges. Napanee is appealing.

  3. Julia says:

    Why is the only solution for affordable housing always high density and building more homes?? And 400,000 is not affordable housing. I think that there are just no options for affordable housing in PEC anymore. I know a student that tried to work here this summer and was paying 1500/month in rent for a trailer earning minimum wage. Student left. In my neighborhood 3 homes were recently purchased by a Toronto consortium to be STAs. They are not interested in the community just money. Soon there will be no one that to serve coffee to all the tourists that our council keeps promoting because they can not afford to live here. Many long term residents have expressed that they do not want to live here any more. One of those residents was even born in the county.

  4. Dave says:

    What about other options such as a housing co-operative?

    The County or other organization could donate some land then people could pool their money and hire a builder.

    Is anyone interested in this?

  5. Paul Cole says:

    No activity on the Disraeli St lot that was gifted to the Affordable Housing Corporation in July of this year.

  6. Dave says:

    Again I will add to this that the new county development plan where only 1 lot can be severed and no rural subdivisions allowed will exacerbate the housing crisis. Why can’t subdivisions be allowed where there is municipal water such as along hwy 33 from bloomfield to carrying place and in rednersville?

  7. Chuck says:

    STA’s should be taxed as commercial operations, as that is exactly what they are. Offering tax incentives to these owners is just ridiculous. You can talk until the cows come home but it is foolish to think a small Municipal Govt can put a dent into the housing crisis.

  8. John Gare says:

    Staff seem to be pandering to the owners of STAs. Don’t give them a tax break for reverting to a long term lease. Simply increase their taxes until its more profitable to convert to a normal rental than remain as an STA. There is no need for regular home owners or renters to cover the lost taxers created by the staff proposal.

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