Council approves partnership agreement with LoveSong affordable housing group

LoveSong Seniors Housing and Community Hub project lead addressed council Tuesday. (Chad Ibbotson/Gazette staff)




Council unanimously approved a partnership agreement with the LoveSong Seniors Housing and Community Hub Tuesday evening.

Under the partnership agreement, the municipality will hold the property for up to 18 months and will share in the due diligence and carrying costs over that time. The municipality would support LoveSong’s application for grants and will provide relief from fees related to development charges, connection fees, building permits, and rezoning. The agreement brings with it financial implications of $262,830.

LoveSong Seniors Housing and Community Hub project lead Joy Vervoort thanked councillors for their support of the project. The offer to purchase Pinecrest and the partnership agreement are key milestones in the objective to make affordable housing for seniors a reality, she said.

“Our vision will see the creation of a community where seniors will have a safe, decent and affordable place to call home while at the same time being actively engaged in everyday living with their neighbours,” she said. “The LoveSong community will encourage the participation of tenants to share their skills and knowledge through programs they themselves will define, be it music, art, dance, exercise, computers, theatre, games, crafts, woodworking or cooking.”

The agreement sets out the responsibilities of both parties in several areas.

During the property purchase and due diligence phase, LoveSong has agreed to bear the responsibility and cost for co-ordinating any environmental assessments on the property. The County would have access to the results and once both parties are satisfied with the outcome, the condition would be waived. The County would take responsibility for any property inspection and provide the findings to LoveSong. Once both parties are satisfied with the results, that condition would also be waived. The property inspection is anticipated to cost about $2,500. LoveSong has agreed to pay all closing costs and legal fees associated with the purchase and transfer of the property from the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board to the municipality. The transfer of the property from the County to LoveSong would be done by a lawyer of the not-for-profit group’s choosing.

The municipality has agreed to split the ongoing carrying costs for heat, hydro, and water with LoveSong over the 18-month holding period. The County will provide property maintenance for the holding period. Any costs associated with roof or structural repair initiated prior to the transfer of the property to LoveSong would be the responsibility of LoveSong and would require consultation with the municipality prior to the start of any construction. The municipality would agree to waive fees associated with property rezoning, building permits, and development charges provided that 50 per cent of the units remain in the affordable category. Ongoing carrying costs during the holding period are anticipated to be $11,608 for electricity, $14,377 for fuel, $1,000 for maintenance, $2,142 for rezoning, $34,585 for building permits for a total carrying cost of $63,712.

Development charges are expected to be $103,925 while connection charges are anticipated to cost $92,693, bringing the total cost to $262,830 or a $10,513-incentive for each of the 25 affordable units. A further 25 units to be developed in the facility are intended to be rented for just under current market rents as calculated by Prince Edward-Lennox and Addington Social Services.

The $196,618 in development fees represent half of the development charges owing on the development since the development is within a serviced area and is subject to a 50 per cent reduction in the charges as part of the development charge incentive program. The other 50 per cent will be paid by the municipality at the time the building permit is issued and would be recovered through future budget allocations and from the increase in assessment on the property.

LoveSong has committed to make the rental units available to the general public regardless of belief or religious faith.

Back in December 2017, council directed County staff to file an expression of interest in the former Pinecrest Memorial Elementary School property at 27 Corey Street in Bloomfield as the LoveSong group spearheaded by members of Emmanuel Baptist Church had suggested the property could be used for affordable housing for seniors. The municipality entered into negotiations to purchase the property following a council discussion on April 10 and at their meeting on July 10, council approved a motion to purchase the property.

Councillor Kevin Gale applauded Vervoort and LoveSong for their efforts.

“In conversations in the past I’ve learned of your passion for seniors and older people an I just want to thank you and your organization,” he said.

Councillor Bill Roberts echoed the sentiment.

“I’m just so impressed with LoveSong for what they’ve done on this initiative,” he said. “We’re all really aware that there’s no one solution to affordable or attainable housing in the county, but this initiative — and other initiatives that many of us have been involved with around the council horseshoe through the (affordable housing) task team — point to the innovation that’s going on.”