A busy Council meeting took place on June 6. There was a closed session portion to discuss human resources matters, presentations and reports were received, approvals granted for contracting quotes, designation of certain lands as surplus, by-law considerations, and other routine business. As usual, it would be impossible to cover all of the Council meeting business in an appropriately succinct article, but every meeting agenda has items that stand out more than others.
One topic of discussion at the meeting that is surely to be of interest to North Grenville residents is the Municipality’s intention to apply for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s “Housing Accelerator Fund” (HAF). The name of this fund may be alarming to some who already feel that new local housing is already “accelerated” enough. Others are likely to applaud the initiative of taking advantage of available funds while supporting sustainable residential growth.
What is the HAF? Simply put, the Fund is intended to incentivize additional housing in municipalities by providing money to help cover some of the “behind the scenes” costs that are associated with new housing developments. Specifically, the funding can be used for HAF action plans, investments in affordable housing, investments in housing-related infrastructure, and investments in community-related infrastructure that supports housing.
There is only a limited amount of time during which applications are accepted for the HAF. Mayor Nancy Peckford praised the efficiency of staff in working on the application for what she called “a very important federal funding opportunity that could significantly enable some affordable housing” locally. Philip Mosher, the Municipality’s Deputy Director of Building and Planning, provided a presentation for Council on the best way to make the application for the HAF successful. He outlined the specific infrastructure improvements for which the Municipality would propose to use any HAF funds received. These options include sewer upgrades, and programs to incentivise affordable housing. Deputy Director Mosher also explained that the application will be better received if it explains how the funds will benefit residential growth long term. The application needs to lay out details on how many additional housing units the HAF would be expected to provide over a three year period.
One factor that is considered when applications for the program are reviewed is the level of commitment of a municipality to increase the housing supply. Successful candidates generally need to have a goal of exceeding minimum growth expectations. While this aligns with both federal and provincial housing visions, it does not sit well with some.
Councillor Kristin Strackerjan spoke after the presentation in the Council meeting to raise concerns about the “more homes built faster” attitude. She believes that there is a need to ensure that we are investing in “the right type of homes for North Grenville”, rather than just seeking out “more growth”. In contrast, Mayor Nancy Peckford voiced support for the initiative. Deputy Mayor John Barclay voiced his support as well, and thanked staff for the diligent work that has been done.
The final draft of the HAF application is expected in the coming months, though the exact time window of the application is not yet known.
As usual, readers can keep up with the detailed business of their local government by visiting the Municipality’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/@NorthGrenville/streams.