Cooperative housing pitch for Lanark County raises questions for staff

Lanark County council received information about a cooperative housing plan during the March 13 meeting, that would include 80 units of affordable housing built on a 4.5-acre property. The land is owned by the county, and located in Tay Valley Township, behind Lanark Lodge. It would need water and sewer hookup from the Town of Perth. Photo credit: Upsplash.
Posted on: March 14, 2024

Proponent says once approved 80 units could be ready for occupancy in 3 years


It looks good on paper, but logistically, there is a lot of work to be done. 

A cooperative housing plan by Linden Housing Co-op was presented to Lanark County council on March 13 which raised more questions than could be answered, prompting a staff report before decisions are made.

Linden Housing Co-op wants to build 80 units of co-operative housing on 4.5 acres of land that are affordable and environmentally sustainable. The land is owned by the county and located in Tay Valley Township. 

One of the clutches – they would need water and sewer hookup from the Town of Perth. 

Steven Welchner, the chair of the housing co-op, spoke about the project that he hopes will address the housing crisis and ecological concerns in rural settings.

He was joined by Lindsay Blair, director of real estate development for CAHDCO.

The early ask from the co-op of county council was to designate the parcel of land – located behind Lanark Lodge – for affordable housing, and to transfer it at $1. Cost of the project would be about $23M to $25M. 

A portion of this amount would go toward servicing the property. About $250,000 has been budgeted with available grants and sharing of expenses with other nearby landowners, Welchner said.

A five per cent equity investment (if required under the new federal co-op development program – details yet to be announced) would amount to $1.25 million, Welchner said.

Rent would be $556 to $1,250 for a one-bedroom unit, or to $1,450 for two-bedroom units; 15 per cent of the units would be affordable for someone on Ontario Disability Support Program. 

“There are a number of rates we’re using,” Blair said. “And some of them are not even close to what a market rate is right now. We are recognizing that there are different levels to affordability.”

The co-op would be run by a board of directors, comprised of members of the co-op, Welchner said. 

“The administration of the co-op would be by the board and by committees, which helps with community bonding and empowerment for the members,” Welchner said. 

Coun. Rob Rainer (Tay Valley Township Reeve), said it was impressed by the group’s efforts, especially with raising $32,000. He said the project aligns with provincial and regional goals for housing. 

“I’m aware of the time sensitivity for funding,” he said, especially for the county to look at this “in a very serious way.”

Coun. Ed McPherson (Perth Deputy Mayor) asked about the annexation talks with the planners to which Welchner alluded. 

“We have already been in conversations with the Perth and Tay Valley planners for better understanding of the hoops we’ll have to go through for this project,” Welchner said. “Both have been very supporting and there is an understanding that it would make sense for the property to move to Perth. That’s something each council will have to grapple with. It would be inappropriate to make those comments, but the dialogue has already started.”

Warden Steve Fournier (Drummond/North Elmsley Reeve), said he wanted to hear from his colleagues in Perth, as that town would be servicing these 80 units with water and sewer.

“They looked like they were blindsided at the suggestion that the planners have this all planned … has it come to the council level,” Fournier asked. “It’s in Tay Valley but needs Perth water and sewer … I think that is one thing we have to cover first.” 

Coun. Judy Brown (Perth Mayor) said it was the first time she’s heard the plan (to service the property from the Town of Perth). Welchner said he has spoken with her on “more than one occasion” about the cooperative housing project.  

Coun. Ed McPherson said he took it as exploratory talks between planners. 

“A lot of things are talked about before it comes to council,” he said. “I think it will be quite a discussion at Perth council. We have a lot of proposals on the books coming forward in Perth that we’ve never seen in 50 years and I’m a little nervous that Perth doesn’t have the capacity to handle all the stuff that’s coming our way … and as the deputy mayor of Perth, Perth comes first.”

Coun. Richard Kidd (Beckwith Reeve) said even if they wanted to go ahead with the plans, they’d have to have an appraisal of the land. He felt that a three-year time frame was ambitious. 

Coun. Jeffrey Carroll (Montague Deputy Reeve) asked who would be the developer for the project. 

Welchner said if the RFP process was approved, then Linden would be one of the applicants. 

Council passed a motion to bring a report back to the April community services meeting.

Note: This story was updated at 9:10 a.m. Monday, March 18.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News