By Ron Giofu
Developers of an affordable housing project proposed for Pickering Dr. are hopeful the town will give them some relief from development charges.
Steve Newman represented the group aiming to build an affordable housing apartment building at 182 Pickering Dr., a building that will be known as South Pointe Apartments. It would be a 32-unit apartment building for seniors and Newman said the roughly $170,000 in relief from the town would help offset $300,000 in upgrades to the proposed building to make it more energy efficient.
Other municipalities assist in relieving or offsetting development charges and if Amherstburg were to do so, Newman believed it would send a “clear message” that the town is embracing affordable housing.
Newman stated that according to the central housing registry in Windsor, there are 3,504 people on the waiting list for affordable housing in the region with 520 – or 15 per cent – being in Amherstburg. Town council has asked administration to come back with a report on the subject including a development agreement incorporating the request.
“We’re about to start construction. We’re in the design phase,” said Newman. “We hope to be open for business in a year.”
The proposed energy efficient additions are over and above the Ontario Building Code requirements, he said, as he and his partners are looking to provide a high quality of life for residents.
CAO John Miceli called Newman’s request “commendable,” noting that electricity is a key concern of many, including seniors
“They want to demonstrate to council they are going to offer further savings for the community if we help them offset the costs,” said Miceli.
Miceli called the 520 people in Amherstburg on the affordable housing list “staggering.”
Some councillors questioned how they would satisfy the request, with Councillor Leo Meloche suggesting a letter of credit for the value of the development charges. The letter of credit would be held until all conditions are satisfied, he offered, calling it a “safeguard” for taxpayers. Councillor Rick Fryer said there has to be a development agreement, with Newman replying the proponents would be prepared to give the town whatever assurances they would need.
Newman said the original plan for the site was for an apartment complex but they were originally denied an affordable housing project during an RFP process. An effort to turn the site into a condominium development was shelved with another application made during another round of affordable housing submissions, with the latter application being accepted.