Prince Edward County is one step closer to having affordable housing units in Wellington on the site of the former Duke Dome. While the project has been in the works for several years, the Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Corporation held their first in-person public information session on July 13th to outline the proposed plan.
The affordable housing site will be at 230 Niles Street.
The site in question will contain a mix of housing-namely a 36 unit, four-storey apartment building and four two-story town houses.
For the affordable housing units, the corporation will be following the guidelines prescribed by CMHC, which dictates affordable housing rent must be 20 per cent of the CMHC median market value.
As per the Planning Justification Report, the CMHC is currently reviewing and revising their median market rent data. At this time, the data presents as follows:
- Bachelor – Studio ($925.00)
- 1 Bedroom ($1,100.00)
- 2 Bedroom ($1,150.00)
- 3 Bedroom ($1,500.00)
The affordable housing project in Wellington is just one of several put forth by the Affordable Housing Corporation. Created by the municipality to address the housing crisis, the corporation is a not-for-profit organization with a strategic plan to increase the supply of affordable housing in Prince Edward County by:
- Increasing the amount of funding available locally for affordable housing development;
- Providing a vehicle for the transfer of municipal assets, physical or financial, for affordable housing development;
- Initiating and/or supporting new affordable housing projects in cooperation with community stakeholders and developers;
- Ensuring high operational standards and protection of affordable housing assets, up to and including owning and/or operating the assets;
- Creating economies of scale for management, construction and operation of housing assets;
- Providing effective and transparent governance of affordable housing investments;
- Developing knowledge and expertise in funding, design and operation of affordable housing; and
- Advocating for and educate the community about affordable housing.
Speaking to the development in Wellington, along with other goals of the Affordable Housing Corporation, was Executive Director Charles Dowdall.
Dowdall stated the Wellington Project is expected to begin January 2023 with completion and occupancy slated for June 2024. Importantly, Dowdall pointed out that the development in Wellington is just one of nine that the corporation has been working toward.
“Over the next 36 months all these projects will provide a minimum of 500 affordable units across the county,” said Dowdall.
While the process of converting the site of the old Duke’s Dome to affordable housing units is near completion, Dowdall explained the process has taken a couple of years.
“The whole process for this development started in July 2020 with the due diligence transfer of the property through to the environmental assessments, engineering assessments and now the site plan concepts which has been submitted for approval,” he explained.
In speaking about the creation of multiple affordable housing units, Dowdall credits the swift development to the corporation’s transition to the municipality.
“That’s been possible because the operations for the housing corporation were moved over to the County. Now I’m a municipal director employed by the County not the housing corporation,” Dowdall stated. “The beauty of that is, being part of the municipality, I have the operational capacity from all functional areas and all functional areas are throwing their complete attention behind me and behind this whole initiative of developing affordable housing. Up until that point, I was the only person dealing with al the affordable housing for the corporation.”
The Planning Justification Report for this project notes it is proposed the four townhouses be used to incentivize medical professionals to the area and will be rented at fair market value. However, Dowdall is careful to add that this is not set in stone.
“Right now, the townhouses are very specific to families to be able to access affordable housing,” he explained. “The corporation board has yet to make a decision (on the fate of the Wellington townhouses) and there is further discussion with other community agencies that needs to happen.”
Furthermore, there will be a number of mixed-unit affordable housing options for families across the county who are in need of affordable housing (row and stacked townhouses) and who cannot live in an apartment.
“Five of the remaining nine projects I referred to the initial site plan discussion will be an integrated mix of housing to include apartments, row and stacked townhouses specifically for families,” stated Dowdall. “Our goal is not to be concentrated 100 per cent on apartments. Our goal is a 60/40 split, with 60 per cent of units built in apartment style and the 40 per cent being a townhouse or single style home for families.”
When asked how the work of the affordable housing corporation is keeping pace with a housing crisis that appears to be out of control, Dowdall expressed optimism, noting it was keeping pace “very well”.
“We’re starting to give birth to these, finally. It’s nice to see these projects are moving forward,” he said.
With the cost of buying a home still out of reach for many and the price of rentals increasing, the projects in question could not be completed too soon.
“I just rolled up the recent numbers for the end of June, and while housing prices have dropped, the rental rates are still going up. We’re seeing bidding wars of 20-25 per cent on rental units,” Dowdall revealed. “We lived in downtown Toronto before and, from what I experienced there, Toronto doesn’t compare to us in the bidding wars for rentals.”
For more information about the affordable housing project in Wellington, please visit: https://www.thecounty.ca/z18-22-prince-edward-county-affordable-housing-corporation/
For more information about the Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Corporation, please see: https://www.thecounty.ca/government/municipal-projects/corporate-strategic-initiatives/pec-affordable-housing-corporation/