BY LAURIE WEIR
Affordable housing took a front seat during the Jan. 30 council meeting in Perth.
Council supported an emergency motion brought forward by Coun. Gary Waterfield, to issue a request for proposal for the property at 63 Halton St. — land that has been declared surplus in the town, “for many years.”
Waterfield said he’d like to get the RFP out as quickly as possible.
The motion calls for staff to issue the RFP upon completion of the appraisal for this property, which is almost complete.
The motion states that the lands will be offered at a nominal cost of $1 to solicit bids and proposals from interested parties for the creation of affordable housing.
Proposals shall be evaluated based on the number of affordable housing units being proposed, timelines, previous experience of the proponent, and proof of financial capacity to complete the project. Rental costs shall be at or below the defined rates as set by the County of Lanark to be deemed affordable housing.
The successful applicant will also agree to enter a site plan agreement to guarantee the units will remain as affordable housing for a period of no less than 30 years.
“The town is not in a position to provide any further relief of property taxes, permit fees, development charges, or infrastructure funding,” Waterfield noted in the motion. “Proponents will acknowledge this as a condition of submitting a proposal.”
Proponents will be encouraged to see further supportive funding from other levels of government to support this project, the proposal reads.
“I really have a sense of urgency,” Waterfield said. “I’m thinking of the many citizens who need affordable housing, and this is our opportunity as a municipality to provide that.”
Coun. Isabel Anne McRae said she appreciated the motion and agreed with it but would like to see accessibility addressed – not just a parking space, but washrooms, and showers.
“I would appreciate if that could be added to the mix of this proposal,” she said.
Coun. Jim Boldt agreed but didn’t want to set a precedent of giving away land without some “real strong parameters. We have to be careful as to how much we’re committing.”
He asked about other town owned lands and development opportunities.
Joanna Bowes, director of development services said the town owns other lands, but they are in a flood plain, or have contamination issues. This would be about the only property they could offer for development.
Boldt said it would be interesting to see what kind of feedback they’d receive on this RFP.
The motion was unanimously supported and will come back to a future council meeting for final approval.