By Darren Lum
The multi-unit dwelling by Hot Pond Enterprises Corporation is poised to move forward after a discussion by Dysart et al councillors was held about fee rebate incentives for its development with for 18 units, six of which will be affordable and located at Maple Avenue and Victoria Street in Haliburton. It’s expected to be built over two phases.
This came up at a discussion followed by the presentation made by the director of planning and land information, Jeff Iles as part of a report received from the County of Haliburton Affordable Housing Target Program Steering Committee at the regular council meeting on Tuesday, April 26.
After a March 23 county meeting where Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy helped highlight the county’s responsibility with housing, Haliburton County will assume responsibility to cover the pre-consultation fee and rent supplement, and providing the offsetting funds from the county’s housing reserve fund to cover the requested sewer connection fees specific to the affordable units. It will save Dysart close to an estimated $48,000.
“We were successful in getting that through so that’s a nice reduction to the taxpayers of Dysart, even though we’re still paying indirectly because we pay the largest portion to the county as well, but it is a little value,” he said.
“They’re going to actually pay real money to Dysart for the ERU [Equivalent Residential Unit ] hookups for the affordable housing. That’s a huge step and we’ll likely have more of these to come so that’s big and keep in mind we do have a reserve,” Mayor Andrea Roberts said. She added there is a total of $20,000 in economic development/housing initiatives, which provides the opportunity access funds for the township to get back after waiving the fees.
In response to Ward 4 Councillor John Smith’s question for clarity about the prorated fees relative to the affordable units, Roberts said it’s a small price to pay for housing.
“It’s a drop in the bucket for what this whole project is going to be costing, but it is seen as economic development. That is why I referenced if we want to take it out of that money that we put in as economic development. You know, because we’re waiving them, but they are still real costs that we’re not replenishing back in our planning and building department. And, honestly, if we don’t help developers like this in a very small way … he’s purchased property. He’s doing everything else, and having to come up with the capital to build,” she said, referring to Hot Pond Enterprises Corporation owner Richard Carson. “We know that housing is our biggest crisis. Everything else, if you don’t have a roof over your head, is gonna fall apart up here and across Ontario, so it’s not prorated. Those are the actual fees.”
Iles said developments must have a minimum of one-third of the units be affordable to be eligible for a full rebate of fees, as part the Affordable Housing Incentive. He adds Dysart does not have an affordable housing incentive policy, but is being worked on now.
“And given the need for housing in the community, it’s a small contribution to that,” Iles said.
Kennedy noted this is a county initiative, but he recognized Smith’s concerns about future developments. Smith said this could be “opening the door” for other developers who will make a request for rebates without documented standards in place to ensure the township isn’t being taken advantage of.
Roberts said this project helps to fulfill an urgent need for housing, which is part of the political mandate for Dysart.
“We have to look at housing for everybody and we have not had a housing project go forward in this term of council, which is really sad. I really thought we’d have had [something before],” Roberts said.
CAO Tamara Wilbee said the recommended incentives outlined and more will be part of a future policy that will be part of an effort by staff from all four municipalities. There will be future discussion coming forward.
Councillor Walt McKechnie said the waived fees are necessary for the future.
“I look at the big picture here, not the $10,000 worth that we’re giving them or whatever. The big picture is the tax revenue over how many years people being in town, creating more economy. I mean, kind of get the blinders off here. Our community needs some housing. You’ve said it many times [Andrea Roberts] and we all know that. So, I mean, to me, what we’re giving way is not the farm,” he said.
Ward 2 Councillor Larry Clarke said affordable housing is part of the township’s Strategic Plan.
“The idea of subsidizing these ones to do a third of their properties [as affordable] is great if this is what we need to get this community growing,” he said.
He said initiatives like these for affordable housing, multi-unit housing, or smaller housing, or something to fulfill what is outlined by the Strategic Plan is needed.
“It’s the only way our community is going to be sustainable,” he said.
Council moved to receive being subject to the completion of such necessary bylaws and agreements and the successful completion of such planning and development process as may be required.