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City of Charlottetown working on affordable housing policy

['Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee in front of city hall in this recent photograph.']
Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee in front of City Hall.

Mayor Clifford Lee said city currently working on affordable housing policy that he hopes will be in place by spring.

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee said the city is currently working on a plan for affordable housing.

Lee said Wednesday the city was recently approached by an outside organization looking to work on an affordable housing project within the city for this spring.

“Their ask to the city was, ‘what can the city do to help us’?’’ Lee said.

“There was no specific ask. That question went to city council, and city council made the decision to create a policy on what the city could do.’’

Council has directed administration to develop some options for it to consider.

Lee cited one example. The city has historically provided tax incentives for commercial development and residential development in downtown Charlottetown.

“So, it became an obvious choice to consider a tax incentive program for affordable housing. Quite honestly, these are ideas off the tops of peoples’ heads.’’

Another idea brought up was whether any of the land the city owns could be donated for affordable housing.

Lee also spoke about looking at providing bonuses under the city’s zoning and development bylaw.

“Do we need to be as strict, for example, with parking requirements for social housing? Is it normal for someone who is in affordable housing that everyone in the building would have the same percentage of vehicles as other buildings? Those are the types of questions that need to be considered and need to be answered.

“We’ve asked administration to review what’s happening in other jurisdictions and to put to paper some ideas for city council to consider.’’

City council may come back and say it can’t do anything to help, but Lee is hoping that won’t be the case.

As for a timeline, Lee expects things to move quickly.

“I expect within the next two months the city will either have a program in place or (council) will say we’re not doing anything. We don’t have time to drag this out and that’s why we’ve left it with administration to move forward.’’

Lee said making it worth a developer’s time to build affordable housing would depend on what the tax policy is.

Seed funding is also available through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) as a grant of $50,000 which helps cover some of the soft costs, such as financial feasibility and a business plan, associated with affordable housing projects.

“We’re looking at that program as well. There are people who wonder if it’s possible for the city to build social housing projects by using federal/provincial dollars. It’s a question that’s worthy of serious discussion.’’

“I expect within the next two months the city will either have a program in place or (council) will say we’re not doing anything. We don’t have time to drag this out and that’s why we’ve left it with administration to move forward.’’ Mayor Clifford Lee

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