Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
July 21, 2024
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Letters — April 10

This week's letters tackle xenophobia, housing affordability, and transit

Elitism in the County

While I am sympathetic to community members who are anxious about the addition of 252 homes in their “backyards,” I’m struggling with the following phrases used to describe their reasons for opposing the development, including: “inner-city living conditions,” “urban back alleys,” “urban crime,” and the need for “single-family homes, something respectful.” 

First, neighbourhoods with back alleys are far from being a new concept. The first back alleys can be traced back 400+ years. Back alleys reduce traffic by providing access for trash pickup, home deliveries, home services, emergency vehicle access, and parking. 

They are where kids can play street hockey and catch, and learn to ride their bikes. If there are concerns around drug dealing, the fact is drugs are accessible anywhere, and I doubt anyone will be setting up a corner operation a la “The Wire.” 

Second, the cost of living, the cost of houses, and mortgage regulations have made it almost impossible for many to purchase a home. Throw in our aging community and those who value and desire multigenerational living, and it becomes clear that diverse housing options are needed. 

Finally, one can read into the reasons for the opposition to the development.  These are folks who are against student housing (many international), against cultures who value multigenerational living (many eastern cultures and lower income families), and against lower income community members who can’t afford the costs of a “standard” single-family house. 

I could be wrong, and it could very well be that people simply don’t like the look of townhomes and value their quiet neighbourhood. If, however, community members are rejecting the need for diverse housing to accommodate students, multigenerational families, low-income families, and single occupants from their neighbourhood, this is a whole other conversation based around the current state of racism, xenophobia and classism in Prince Edward County.

Alison Kelly, Athol

Good Transit Could Solve Housing Problem

Re: Approved (April 3). It is interesting to see all the fuss and interest at Council on the subject of affordable housing, and sad to see how it is being handled. The Sterling Homes project near Wellington On The Lake is a good example of a superficial solution to the issue. It seems the answer is to basically crowd a bunch of smaller homes onto an even smaller plot of land, simulating an urban environment that is surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of acres of farmland. It doesn’t really make sense, and it will result in properties that are perhaps 10 percent lower-priced than if built on proper-sized lots for the environment. I don’t see how a home that costs 10 percent less in PEC will be affordable for someone working in the service industry.

In places like Whistler, B.C., where the average home price is nearing $2 million, and Aspen, Colorado, where the average home price is already over $3 million, expense has been a problem for a few decades. 

The solution is not cheaper houses, because once built they simply merge into whatever the average is for the area. 

At Whistler the city controls the selling price of a few hundred “affordable” houses they built, and they remain “affordable,” but that has not really provided a place to live for the thousands of service-industry and ski-industry workers who need to be there. The best affordable housing solution for workers in places like that is public transit from nearby towns that are still somewhat affordable. In PEC the solution would be cheap but reliable public transit from Belleville, Trenton, Sterling, and wherever else may still be somewhat affordable and within a 45-minute commute.

The quest for affordable housing here is futile at this point unless we do something to lower the price of all real estate in PEC by half, which would certainly not be welcomed by current property owners. But affordable public transit could be achievable and would make it possible for people working here to have a broad and more affordable choice of where to live.

Mark Russell, Wellington

Elm Street Unsafe

Thank you, Alan Gratias, for your thoughtful article in the Gazette (January 10) regarding the topic “to yearn.” “Live small in a sphere you can influence”  is a great motto for daily life. 

My yearn for 2024 regards unsafe road conditions on Elm Street while exiting Prince Edward Collegiate Institute property to Paul St. This 55-metre municipal road is covered with potholes, loose gravel and sand. There are large puddles after rain and in winter it is icy and slippery. Using this road are students in JK, SK, other primary grades, parents with younger siblings (some in strollers), grandparents, caregivers  and family pets. An average of 80 cars and trucks use this exit during the morning drop off and 50+ for the afternoon pick up of their children, as well as the pedestrian traffic. The reconstruction of this road needed to be addressed when the school transitioned to JK – Grade 12.

This unsigned section of Elm St. needs to be paved with a raised double-wide sidewalk on the north side so that pedestrians have a separated walkway while cars can exit safely in their lane. 

My yearn is supported with a petition of 100 signatures from parents, grandparents and caregivers. All are concerned about these unsafe conditions and the lack of intervention by the Municipality. 

Operations has assessed the area. Staff are considering several long-term hardscaping  options. The municipality needs to take responsibility and make this road safe for all who use it. The time to fix this road is now and not after an unfortunate accident where a child is hurt.

Diane Cooper, Picton

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 15 edition of The Picton Gazette
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