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'Affordable' and 'level of affordability': what's the difference?

Two terms come up as Centre Wellington council gives final approval to 271-unit project on Wellington Road 7

ELORA ‒ While many councillors expressed concerns about the impact of the large residential development approved for 350 Wellington Road 7 on existing infrastructure during a council meeting Monday evening, others wanted to discuss the feasibility of using the 271 units proposed for affordable housing.

The project received unanimous final approval at the meeting.

Located across from the cemetery, each unit will range in size from 1,121 sq. ft. to 2,096 sq. ft., and have its own garage and driveway, with some units including separate office or den spaces to promote post-pandemic work-from-home opportunities.

But Coun. Barb Evoy shared that several community members have expressed they're unsure whether the proposed 56-space visitor parking lot and 12 visitor bicycle parking spaces can sustain both the future residents and their potential clients. 

"Nobody's gonna' be able to park on the county road so (any additional parking) will have to be internal to the site," said managing director of planning and development, Brett Salmon. "I think we have the opportunity through site plan approval to make sure that they have enough parking."

Coun. Lisa MacDonald advocated for the implementation of a roundabout as an additional traffic calming measure.

"I find even when I drive, (when you see) roundabouts coming up, you're already putting on the brakes," said MacDonald. "Sometimes with lights, people just don't pay attention and I foresee a lot of children living in this development." 

Salmon said that a pedestrian crossing is proposed for South Street but from the township and county's point of view, the preferred option is to direct pedestrian traffic down to the corner of David Street and County Rd. 7 and build the crossing there. 

The development's proposed entrance was also relocated to align with South Street following additional consultation with the township and county staff during a public meeting earlier this year. 

Later in the meeting, Coun. Denis Craddock asked whether the applicant, Elora 7 OP Inc. would be open to upping the number of units from 271 to 280, the maximum allowed, and dedicated the nine additional units to affordable housing. 

However, Eldon Theodore, a partner at MHBC Planning, who represented the developers during the meeting, said that he feels those objectives are already being met within the proposal. 

"The whole objective of this development was to achieve a level of affordability with attainability to the development itself," said Theodore. "The total number of which we can't commit to until we're at the point in which we're ready to develop."

When Craddock asked what the developer considers affordable, Theodore said that they consider affordable as 30 per cent of the median salary but are "quite flexible" about the definition. 

"We understand where the market is," said Theodore."Either way, it will be the objective is to achieve a certain level of affordability below the average market as part of this development." 

Salmon said there are no concrete start or end dates as they depend on the negotiation progress for servicing and other agreements but that the council will be updated once there's more information. 

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

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About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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