In late December, 2017 the Ministry of Housing (MHO) extended an invitation to a number of lower tier municipalities including Collingwood to participate in a Development Charges Rebate Program.
The purpose of the Province of Ontario program is to make it easier for individuals and families to find a home by rebating development charges on new, purpose-built rental housing, and to encourage more construction and bring more fairness to the rental market.
Peter Milczyn, Minister of Housing for the Province of Ontario, made the announcement on November 29, 2017 that the province will rebate up to $125 million in development charges over five years for priority purpose-built rental developments in municipalities with low vacancy rates or high tenant populations, where affordable rentals are hard to find.
Collingwood’s vacancy rate currently sits at 1.4%.
Director of Planning Services for the Town of Collingwood, Nancy Farrer, says while the program would increase the number of rental units in our community, it would not necessarily increase the supply of affordable rental units.
“The rental units that would be built under this program would have the ability to actually be above our average market rent and they could rent for anywhere between 1500.00 to 1800.00 a month.”
Farrer told Collingwood Council on Monday February 12th that rental units that would be built under this program would have the ability to rent out above the town’s average market rent at anywhere from $1500.00 to $1800.00 a month.
“We have not done a thorough study to determine what developers might be interested in this project locally. There hasn’t been much time to respond, but if we are to respond we did want to bring it before council because we have to at least have an initial response by Friday February 16th.”
Staff would then be required to work towards a final submission date of March 2, 2018.
“If we don’t at least initiate our application by Friday February 16th, we would not be eligible to apply for the next five years.“
The Development Charges Rebate Program would allocate money to subsidise and rebate any developers who build rental units in the community over these next five years. The town could use up to five percent of the allocations to fund any internal administrative costs.
The program calls for a twenty year commitment on the part of the owners of the rental units to keep them as rental properties.
Councillor Kathy Jeffery said that she felt the program represented an opportunity for Collingwood.
“I think sometimes the programs don’t work to create entry level opportunities but you have to clear or have inventory in the middle market or next step up to move people, to graduate them through the market.”
Jeffery said she feels council needs to have a better idea of the impact of the county affordable housing build on the market but added she feels this program presents a good opportunity for the community.
Councillor Deb Doherty said that she thought the program presented an intriguing proposition to the town.
“Certainly anything that we can do to increase our stock of rental housing regardless of the price point is a good thing. And as long as the municipality is not on the hook for a failed experiment then I would be more than happy to push forward and make more inquiries of the county and also what our potential liabilities would be in terms of either staffing or consultant costs to implement the program.”
Council voted to receive Staff report P2018-03 for information purposes.
Councillor Jeffery then put a motion on the table to have staff move forward with completing the application. The motion was passed unanimously.
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