Despite a lack of interest among city council for getting involved in affordable housing, the city will be seeking requests for proposals for such a project on the former JL Jackson site.
Council has given city staff the go-ahead to create RFPs for a one-acre property on the Jackson site that’s been allotted to the city by School District #83 for the purpose of providing affordable housing.
Asked by Mayor Marty Bootsma why the school district, which owns the property, isn’t doing the RFPs, development services director Corey Paiement said the school district did not want to get into the process of choosing a developer, that they’re not in the affordable housing business.
“Neither are we,” replied Bootsma.
Paiement explained the city has until April 2012 to inform the school district that a developer has been selected.
If a developer hasn’t been selected, the offer of the site to the city is off the table and the development guidelines approved in the OCP for the property would still apply.
“I’m still wondering why we as a council or as a community haven’t come up with our approach to affordable housing before we deal with a site-specific issue,” commented Coun. Kevin Flynn.
Paiement said the RFP would be worded to allow profit and non-profit groups to bid. It will also be noted that developers shouldn’t expect any financial assistance from the city.
Coun. Ivan Idzan asked if the city could provide incentives such as waiving development cost charges. Paiement said the DCC bylaw currently doesn’t allow for this, that the costs would have to come from somewhere.
Flynn reiterated that while free land is nice, it may not bring proponents to the table.
Bootsma, in approving the RFP process, said the city should have no further involvement.
“Affordable housing is a bottomless pit and this is something that should go on to the provincial government… Municipalities just don’t have the resources to do so,” commented Bootsma.