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Development charges deferred for senior's housing in Rockwood

Guelph/Eramosa Township is fully supporting the not-for-profit housing in its mission to acquire funding
Squire's Lodge at 160 Guelph St. in Rockwood. Eramosa Non-Profit Housing Corp. is looking to expand this property with another affordable building for seniors. Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday

GUELPH/ERAMOSA – The Township of Guelph/Eramosa has authorized staff to defer development charges on an affordable seniors housing project for 20 years. 

Eramosa Non-Profit Housing Corp. owns the 26-unit Squire’s Lodge, an affordable housing building for independent seniors, at 160 Guelph St. in Rockwood. Last year, they had paid off their mortgage and now plan to build a 24-unit building on the same property. 

The project has been projected to cost over $6 million and the Eramosa Non-Profit Housing Corp. is looking for support from the township. The deferred development charges total around $425,000.

There is precedence for this ask. In the 1980s, council had waived the development charges for Squire’s Lodge. Asking for development charges to be waived is just the first step in the support.

The County of Wellington has issued a request for proposal, which closes on March 18, looking for developers to submit for up to $1.6 million over two years from the county to go towards affordable housing. In previous years this funding has gone to a single developer but could be split between two or more.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) has a low-interest loan program that can be applied for if certain criteria are met such as energy efficiency.

Michelle Dawe, president of Eramosa Non-Profit Housing Corp., said having the township’s backing can help in acquiring some outside funding. 

“We need your support for Wellington County and for the CMHC, to show that we have council support to put this building up,” Dawe said in council. “What we need is some financial support along with you saying ‘Yes we want this building to be put up.’”

Tim Welch, from housing research, planning and development firm Tim Welch Consulting Inc., made a comparison to securing funding for housing to assembling a lasagna. Developers have to acquire many layers of funding instead of larger sources of government funding as in the past. 

“The housing programs that have existed in the last number of years are very different from programs that created the original building 35 years ago,” Welch said to council. 

Many of the units at Squire’s Lodge are geared-to-income and the same is intended at the new building.

In a follow-up interview, Dawe said this housing is desperately needed.

“There’s a need in all of these small areas for affordable living for seniors, we have a waiting list of above 50 people,” she said. 

Mayor Chris White expressed this same sentiment in council. He said he feels subsidized housing is critical for seniors and that council should help out the project in any way it can. 

“I think this is a fantastic project, when you look at the bang for the buck, 24 units for $6 million dollars is very cost effective,” he said. 

In the end, council was in full support and has directed staff to authorize the deferred development charges.