Staff recommend approval of Habitat project for back-to-back towns on Plains/Glendor

To committee May 26; council June 9

Habitat for Humanity HaltonPlanning staff are recommending approval of a proposal to rezone 1325 & 1331 Plains Road East and 1025 Glendor Ave. for 12 back-to-back townhouses and one, one-storey accessible unit. The proposal requires an Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw Amendment.

The units would be built by Habitat for Humanity under their plan to help low income families or individuals with minimum annual income of $24,000 up to $65,500 maximum to become home owners.

Habitat builds the home and provides mortgages in exchange for recipients’ volunteering 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ towards construction of their home, or to Habitat programs such as the ReStore or in the office supporting the delivery of programs. The units are priced from the start at market value; when sold, the mortgages are paid off and any additional equity stays with the family or individual.

Read more about the Habitat homeownership model here.

The Development & Infrastructure Committee, which includes all members of council, will review the proposal at a public meeting May 26, 6:30pm, Council Chambers, Level 2, 426 Brant St. Any recommendation from the D&I committee will go to the June 9 City Council meeting, 6:30pm, for a final vote. Residents can attend and speak at both meetings by registering in advance online here or by phone at 905.335.7600, x7490.

The staff report is online here

My Take: I am not a fan of back-to-back townhouses, especially for families, as I believe children need yards that are in close proximity to their home, so parents can keep an eye on them. Though standard townhomes with yards were previously suggested and considered, staff advised against it, as simply separating the townhomes would create a small tunnel between homes. However, a different site layout may have been able to accommodate townhomes. I’m told the site will include some greenspace and possibly a play area; more details should be available in the staff report or at the public meeting.

The zoning on this property permits a range of uses, including townhouses and detached dwellings. The staff report will provide additional detail on why the Official Plan and Zoning need to be amended to facilitate this development. Generally, I do not believe we should be varying our Official Plan and Zoning unless it is to achieve policy goals that advance the common good, including affordable housing and/or rental housing.

These units are not “affordable housing” in the usual sense, because they are priced and sold at market value, however the Habitat model does allow families and individuals to become home owners on very limited incomes – so it’s affordable housing in that sense. As a result, I am open to considering this project as a way to advance housing for low income residents, but will wait for the staff report and public meeting to hear more details before making a final decision.

Your Take: What’s your view of this proposal? Leave a comment below.

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