The Blue Mountains council continues to press developers to come to the table with serious options to address the affordable/attainable housing crisis when they're pitching new builds.
On May 29, council held a public meeting for a proposed rezoning and subdivision plan for the Lora Greens development just outside of Thornbury on property on Highway 26, directly across the street from the town’s Campus of Care site. The proposal would see the property rezoned to allow a 38-unit subdivision on large residential lots.
The selling price of the units has been estimated at $1.6 to $1.9 million per unit.
The development proposal does not include any affordable/attainable units, which was a sticking point for members of council.
“It is our opinion that this site is not suitable for affordable/attainable housing,” project planner Miriam Vasni told council.
Vasni said the lack of services in the area such as sidewalks and transit and the distance from the nearest grocery store contributed to the view that the proposal was not a good one for affordable/attainable units.
Instead, the proponents of the development are proposing to “rough-in” basement apartments in 16 of the 38 units (40 per cent) and are offering $5,000 cash per unit ($190,000 total) to be collected at the time a building permit is issued for the project to assist with the town’s affordable/attainable housing efforts.
The offer didn’t impress three members of council, who said the effort was not adequate.
“I find the approach to affordable housing extremely disappointing,” said Coun. June Porter. “I would like to see how that amount could be substantially increased.”
Coun. Gail Ardiel agreed.
“I’d like to see that number up higher,” Ardiel said of the $5,000 per unit proposal.
Coun. Paula Hope called the offer “disappointing.”
“That is not going to solve our problems with attainable housing,” she said. “It’s a pretty strong message from three councillors that the attainable housing offer needs to be strengthened.”
Mayor Andrea Matrosovs pointed out that Grey County has a transit service that runs on Highway 26. While Coun. Shawn McKinlay noted that Goldsmith’s Farm Market and Bakery is located directly across the street from the proposed development.
Two members of the public addressed council about the development proposal. The main concern raised was the protection of the Georgian Trail, which runs along the north side of the property.
Council made no decisions about the proposal at the meeting. A full report will come forward in the near future with further details and a recommendation from planning staff on the application.