The Blue Mountains Mayor Alar Soever wants to see Grey County take a more active role in promoting affordable and attainable housing through its planning process.
Soever raised the issue at county council’s committee of the whole meeting on April 28 after council received a preliminary report about a proposed development in Thornbury.
The proposed Blue Meadows development is located on a large piece of property at Arthur, Louisa and Alice Streets behind the Foodland store.
The proposed plan of subdivision would create blocks of land for 98 residential rowhouse units, two commercial buildings with ground-floor commercial and a total of 75 residential units above, and 18 live/work freehold rowhouse units with commercial on the ground floor and two-storey residential units above.
Mayor Soever questioned why the preliminary county planning report, which council received for information, did not mention affordable or attainable housing.
“I do notice a lack of reference to affordable housing here. The county has allocated one per cent of the tax base to dealing with affordable housing. I am concerned we’re not addressing this in our planning,” said Soever.
The Blue Mountains mayor noted that both the county Official Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement make affordable housing a priority.
“(The report) talks about natural, cultural and archeological resources, but not affordable or attainable housing, yet the Provincial Policy Statement is quite clear,” said Soever. “I am concerned that we’re throwing a lot of taxpayer dollars at affordable housing. I’m just concerned that we’re not using all of the planning tools.”
Grey County Manager of Planning Services, Scott Taylor said county staff would go back to the developer with more questions about affordable housing and he thanked Soever for raising the issue.
“We do really appreciate council raising these comments because it does further empower staff when we have these discussions with developers at the pre-submission consultation stage and even as the applications have been submitted to beat that drum and say: (affordable housing) is a very clear priority of county council and if you don’t include some verbiage in your reports speaking to affordable and attainable housing it’s a question that is going to be asked in the community both from residents and councillors alike,” said Taylor.
Taylor advised county staff would seek more information from the developer regarding affordable housing prior to any public meeting being scheduled.