The Lanark County Housing Corporation (LCHC) is an organization owned by Lanark County, responsible for the administration and funding of social housing within the County and the Town of Smiths Falls. LCHC owns a total of 533 social housing units throughout Lanark County, including the properties located at 314 to 334 Joseph Street, 328 to 388 Pattie Drive, and 153 to 205 Edwards Drive, also known as JEP. In 2015 LCHC determined these properties had reached the end of their useful life and the JEP site would be redeveloped. To enable this process, as tenants moved from their homes the units remained vacant. In 2016 during the course of the redevelopment process, LCHC discovered that the JEP property had been partially impacted with petroleum hydrocarbons, although the full extent of the contamination was not known. This put a halt to LCHC’s redevelopment project at JEP.
LCHC carried out indoor air quality testing at the LCHC properties to assess possible risks to the tenants arising from the petroleum hydrocarbon contamination. These tests disclosed that the indoor air quality did not pose an unacceptable level of risk to the tenants.
LCHC has commenced a court action against the parties it claims to have caused or contributed to the contamination at the JEP site; including current and former owners or occupants of a neighbouring property located at 163 Townline Road West, which previously operated as a gasoline station. In the court action LCHC seeks, among other things, damages necessary to clean-up the contamination at the JEP lands and an injunction requiring the defendants to stop any continuing migration of contaminants from 163 Townline Road West.
The timelines for resolving the dispute over the JEP property are unclear. LCHC is not at liberty to disclose information it has received in connection with the court action because of information sharing restrictions imposed by that process. LCHC is working diligently through the court process towards a resolution.
The JEP property is currently vacant and will be declared surplus by Lanark County (the sole shareholder) in the near term. At the direction of the Town of Carleton Place, and under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, LCHC was required to board up the windows and doors at the JEP properties. LCHC is continuing to explore options for these properties in connection with its court action.
LCHC continues to provide social housing options in Carleton Place. In order to move forward with development and increase housing stock, Lanark County Housing Corporation approved the purchase of land at 130 Lansdowne Avenue in the Town of Carleton Place for the construction of a design-build 20 unit apartment building. The building will contain 15 rent-geared-to-income units and 5 affordable housing units. It will contain 4 fully accessible units and will consist of 1 and 2 bedroom units to address the demand for smaller homes. Additionally in 2019, Lanark County released 15 new Portable Housing Benefit spaces and partnered with Lanark County Interval House to secure 4 second stage housing units.
“Quality, diverse and affordable housing is the foundation of a healthy community. In 2018, Lanark County Council set a goal to increase our social and affordable housing stock. We continue to make strides in achieving our targets while we simultaneously navigate significant challenges” said Warden Richard Kidd (LCHC Board Member and Beckwith Reeve).