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Unanimous council support for Willow Road supportive housing project

'This project will help to ensure everyone in the community has a safe and affordable place to call home,' says Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination coordinator
20210510 85 and 89 Willow Rd Guelph proposal
R8endering of the planned permanent supportive housing project at the back of 85 and 89 Willow Rd. with access off Shelldale Crescent.

A permanent supportive housing project is coming to Willow Road, following unanimous council support of the project on Monday evening.

“We should all be very proud,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie, noting the initiative will help the city reach its goal of eliminating homelessness by 2023.

Council approved zoning changes needed for a five-storey, 32-unit project to move forward at the rear of properties at 85 and 89 Willow Rd. and accessed off Shelldale Crescent.

The project is a partnership between Kindle Communities, Guelph Community Health Centre (GCHC) and the current owners of the two properties – Skyline Group of Companies and Starlight Investments, which plan to sever about 0.5-hectares of land and donate it to Kindle.

Support services are to be provided 24/7 by GCHC.

“Let’s prove that YIMBY can work,” said Coun. Phil Allt, referring to the Yes In My Back Yard campaign.

Though several people spoke out in favour of the zoning change and planned project, nearby resident Donna Haskett pleaded with council to delay making its decision until the pandemic is over and residents are more freely able to participate in open houses to share their opinion.

“It’s premature to make a decision now,” she said, pointing to consultation events held by proponents in December that required people to register their attendance as well as in-person attendance limits associated with health regulations. “It deserves the highest scrutiny.”

However, city staff later noted, those meetings were held above and beyond what’s required by the Planning Act. 

“Our community has a critical need for this type of housing,” said Dominica McPherson, coordinator for Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination, who called the location “perfect” because of its close proximity to transit, employment opportunities, community services and more.

“This project will help to ensure everyone in the community has a safe and affordable place to call home.”

Councillors Leanne Caron and Dominque O’Rourke each declared a conflict of interest on this item. Caron’s spouse has a business relationship with one of the applicants, while O’Rourke’s husband is a member of the board at Kindle Communities.