The Blue Mountains Attainable Housing Corporation (BMAHC) is looking to create 250 units of attainable housing in the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) over the next five years through a minimum of two rental projects and one home-ownership project.
"No one project is going to do that on its own. No one project can serve all of the intended target markets, and no one location can serve all of the intended workers that we are looking to house here in our community,” said Sharon McCormick, executive director of the BMAHC.
McCormick, along with the TBM councillor and chair of the BMAHC Rob Sampson, presented an update on the corporation’s progress at a virtual town hall event held earlier this week that was organized by the Citizen’s Forum and the Blue Mountain Ratepayers Association, two community-driven groups with a vested interested in the town's affairs.
The BMAHC plans to take a varied approach to achieve the goal of 250 units in five years through building properties, supporting development and facilitating incentives, and buying and acquiring land or buildings that can be retrofitted to provide attainable housing.
“A variety of projects has to be taken over a period of time to ensure that all the needs are addressed,” McCormick stated.
Currently, the BMAHC has its focus set on the Gateway site, which is located at 171 King St East in Thornbury.
According to McCormick, this site was selected as the BMAHC’s initial attainable housing project because it was “the most development-ready” and “most suitable for purpose-built rental”.
Currently, the board is working through the due diligence of the project, which is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
McCormick says the BMAHC is also moving forward with additional community engagement and recently began developing the BMAHC Gateway Project Design Guidelines Task Force, which advises the board on matters relating to the design guidelines that will be included in the request for proposals (RFP) and form part of the RFP evaluation and selection of a design-build contractor.
The task force will be formulating a report back to TBM council and the BMAHC board by the end of the year.
“We've [also] created a community position on the evaluation team for the procurement of our design builder,” McCormick continued. “Later this year, we'll be going out to pre-qualify design builders based on their experience, credibility and the team that they are putting together in order to bid.”
The process of pre-qualifying design builders is forecasted to take place later this year.
At the same time, the formal planning process for the project will begin near the end of this year and into early 2021.
The formal planning process will be led by TBM council where decisions will be made on the site planning parameters – such as the height of the building.
“The planning amendments that are being considered are to assess and look at the possibility of up to a five-storey building that could be developed on the Gateway site,” McCormick said.
She adds that community engagement will be encouraged throughout the formal planning process and the public will have several opportunities to contribute comments through a public meeting and an open house.
“Once decisions are made by council on those planning parameters, in the New Year the BMAHC will issue our second stage of the procurement process, which is the RFP to our pre-qualified design builders,” she said.
The proposals received from the pre-qualified builders will be shared with the community for additional public input.
The BMAHC anticipates finalizing the building contract for the Gateway project in 2021.
Currently, construction is forecast to begin in early 2022 and expected to be completed by 2023.