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Niagara Regional Housing plans affordable housing project for Carlton Street

Niagara Regional Housing plans affordable housing project for Carlton Street

Niagara Regional Housing plans affordable housing project for Carlton Street

Niagara This Week – St. Catharines
By Melinda Cheevers
June 29, 2016

ST. CATHARINES — Niagara Regional Housing is taking a proactive approach to reducing wait times for affordable housing units in St. Catharines.

On Monday, the site of a future NRH development was revealed on Carlton Street. Formerly home to the Carlton United Church, NRH purchased the site with the intention of building one-bedroom units, in an effort to reduce the wait time for Niagara residents which currently sits at 12 years.

“This is 12 years too long to have a stable home,” said Paul Grenier, NRH board chair.

The property, which is currently zoned as community institutional allowing for a building up to six storeys high. Grenier said there are no plans currently in place for the property design, noting a request for proposals for designs closes Friday.

“We have to go through the evaluation process still, we’re hoping to finalize the design by the end of summer,” he said, noting with the current zoning, the site can accommodate 88 units with plans to have them as one-bedroom units.

“Once we’ve got a preliminary design, we’ll see how we can maximize the space,” said Ellen Balmain, NRH executive director. “We may be able to include a few two-bedroom units.”

Balmain said $11 million has been set aside for the entire project, including design costs and for the build. She said that includes estimates for grants they plan on applying to for funds.

St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik said the Carlton Street site, which is situated in a built-up area bounded by a public school, parks, recreational trails, public transit and shopping centres, is a great location for this project.

“Thank you for doing the research on this and not just selecting a vacant piece of property,” he said to NRH. “This site was selected because of its quality. A key aspect in building community is ensuring there is affordable housing available in the community… This will be a site where people are able to get a lift up.”

At the end of May there are 4,400 households on the wait list for affordable housing units, Balmain said that translates to about 10,000 individuals.

“If we took 1,000 people off that list in this term of council, that’s not acceptable in a community that has what we have,” said Reg. Chair Alan Caslin. “This is a great start toward making a difference. It’s important for Niagara, it’s important for people that need that shelter and quite frankly, we’re going to get beautiful, beautiful site.”

Grenier said they hope to have construction underway in the fall, depending on design timelines.