Coun­cil ap­proves 24-unit town­house com­plex in Welles­ley Vil­lage

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - FAISAL ALI

A 24-UNIT TOWN­HOUSE COM­PLEX in Welles­ley vil­lage this week won ap­proval from town­ship coun­cil­lors, who are hop­ing the de­vel­op­ment will help meet the de­mands of se­niors and those look­ing for more af­ford­able hous­ing.

In re­al­ity, how­ever, coun­cil­lors rec­og­nized that their hands were tied in how they could in­flu­ence de­vel­op­ers to build homes specif­i­cally for se­niors, lower-in­come fam­i­lies, or other spe­cific pop­u­la­tion groups. The prac­tice, noted town­ship plan­ner Ge­off Van­derBaaren, might be con­sid­ered dis­crim­i­na­tory.

“It’s a cau­tion, I guess. It’s not that we can’t do it. It’s gen­er­ally what I’ve seen in the past is that it has to be some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion – some sig­nif­i­cant jus­ti­fi­ca­tion – to do that,” said Van­derBaaren.

“That doesn’t stop a devel­oper from de­vel­op­ing some­thing from a mar­ket­ing per­spec­tive that is geared to­wards se­niors, it’s just that, as a mu­nic­i­pal­ity, we have to be cau­tious in terms of try­ing to ma­nip­u­late our zon­ing by­laws so that only one sec­tor of the pop­u­la­tion can oc­cupy the site.”

Coun. Peter van der Maas pointed out the in­her­ent prob­lem with se­niors’ hous­ing be­ing con­sid­ered dis­crim­i­na­tory.

“Now, in a case like this, at least in the ward that I rep­re­sent, there has been sig­nif­i­cant re­quests for hous­ing by peo­ple who have lived in the vil­lage for all their lives, and no longer re­quire the larger homes, maybe can’t af­ford the two-bed­room bun­ga­lows with the gran­ite coun­ter­tops,” he noted.

“And what we’re see­ing – what I’m see­ing – is that peo­ple who have been con­tribut­ing mem­bers to the vil­lage for decades, gen­er­a­tions, now no longer have a place there. Is it pos­si­ble that in try­ing to serve them, that we could be ac­cused of dis­crim­i­na­tory hous­ing prac­tices?”

“That’s very pos­si­ble,” re­sponded Van­derBaaren.

Zon­ing by­laws do give the town­ship some lee­way, how­ever, noted Van­derBaaren. The de­vel­op­ers are seek­ing a zone change on the 2.7acre site at the cor­ner of Nafziger and Ger­ber roads. The zon­ing would al­low the con­struc­tion of semide­tached res­i­dences, but not sin­gle-fam­ily homes, which would keep the cost af­ford­able.

Mayor Joe Nowak was more sup­port­ive of the project.

“There’s no rea­son why these units can’t be de­signed to ac­com­mo­date a se­nior per­son,” he said. Even with two storeys, the homes could still be used for af­ford­able se­niors’ hous­ing, pro­vided res­i­dents didn’t have mo­bil­ity is­sues.

Ul­ti­mately, ap­proval for the project was granted by coun­cil, in­clud­ing the re­quested zone change, with van der Maas op­pos­ing the de­ci­sion.

[SUB­MIT­TED]

A con­cept draw­ing of the site lay­out pro­posed for the de­vel­op­ment at the cor­ner of Nafziger and Ger­ber roads in Welles­ley vil­lage.

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