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TBM considers grant program for secondary suites

BIA suggests incentive program to encourage more rental units and increase affordable housing stock in The Blue Mountains
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The Town of The Blue Mountains logo.

The Blue Mountains council will examine what programs and incentives are available to encourage homeowners to create secondary suites to help alleviate the attainable housing crisis.

At its meeting on June 13, council considered a letter from Thornbury BIA Chair George Matamoros that encouraged the town to put in place a grant program to assist homeowners in establishing a secondary suite on their property.

“Will council consider introducing grants to homeowners to help with renovations to convert part of existing homes to accommodate a secondary suite? Qualifying expenses would include such things as creating a separate entrance and converting units to meet fire code requirements,” said Matamoros. “Also, if necessary, amend existing bylaws to allow the creation of secondary suites where necessary.”

The correspondence generated plenty of discussion around the table and council voted to refer the letter to the Blue Mountains Attainable Housing Corporation (BMAHC), the Official Plan Review Committee and the senior management team to get more options about what might be possible.

Coun. Rob Sampson said a secondary suite funding program did exist at one time that provided up to $5,000 in funding to assist with such projects.

“In today’s housing market, that didn’t do much. There was little to no uptake,” said Sampson. “The program needs to be revamped. It needs to be re-designed and re-thought.”

Sampson suggested a new program could be established through the town’s Community Improvement Plan (CIP).

Coun. Paula Hope, who sits on the BIA as council’s representative, said she will be pursuing options for the program. Hope said a funding program to support secondary suites would support homeowners, local workers and the business community.

“It could be a very attractive option. It’s a win-win-win,” she said.

CAO Shawn Everitt said there are a number of options for the town to consider. He said the town’s finance and senior management team would look at options and report back to council. Possibilities include: dedicating proceeds from the sale of any municipal lands to a fund for programs to help create attainable housing and waiving development charges for builders who include attainable housing in their proposals.

“At the end of the day there is not a silver bullet for our attainable housing crisis,” said Everitt. “There are a variety of options.”