Housing construction (Photo by Mike Vlasveld)Housing construction (Photo by Mike Vlasveld)

Affordable housing plan up for city council approval

Sarnia city council is being asked to adopt an Affordable Housing Community Improvement Plan [AHCIP] when it meets Monday.

Mayor Mike Bradley said it would designate the entire geographic area to be a community improvement project area.

"I think it's a positive direction," said Bradley. "I've been dealing with many groups in the community that want affordable housing, and they want it now, and then you run into the issues of support, grants, incentives and tax relief."

The AHCIP would be both municipally incentive driven and incentive based.

"Dealing with people in the development community, everything helps. Especially when you're dealing with interest rates that are higher than normal, which has stalled a number of projects here, there, and everywhere. So having some relief is of assistance to them, and it's one more way we can do something as a city to get affordable housing and get it now," he said.

Specifically, the plan would offer a tax incentive equivalent grant program and a parking reduction program.

Four general financial incentive grant programs would also be offered, including; new accessory unit grants, grants to offset planning and building permit fees, renovation and accessibility grants for purpose-built rental housing and grants for studies in support of the feasibility of new affordable housing.

Mayor Bradley said a plan to address renovictions, is not being dealt with in this document.

"That report will be coming back to council [in the future.] That is a growing movement across the province right now that cities aren't seeing the province stepping up," he said. "Our staff are looking at ways we can deal with it. I hear stories every day that really aren't fair and the province needs to step up to prevent this and if they don't, we need to look at our options and that's what we're doing right now."

In addition to paying for the AHCIP, council is being asked to direct staff to utilize the 2024 budget allocation of $75,000 for community improvement projects in Sarnia's downtown and Mitton Village neighbourhoods.

Council will consider the recommendations during its regular meeting February 12 at 1 p.m.

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