• The Low Down

No affordable rental housing created in Chelsea

The Editor,


Dear mayor, councillors, town staff and other concerned parties,


I have read with interest the report on the first phase of consultations in regard to the master plan and the priorities and the public’s interest in affordable housing options within our community.


This has been a subject that has been discussed for the last 17 years that I have been in this town. However the reality is that, despite Chelsea creating a $24 million water and sewer plant and the previous approvals of three very large subdivision plans on the Hendrick Farm, Chelsea Creek and Meredith lands, no affordable rental housing of any kind has been created.


With the price of houses in Chelsea currently, rental housing will be the only affordable option available to many people now and in the future.


The issue here quite obviously is this council’s reluctance to tackle the higher density zoning. Higher density is the only method a municipality will be able to attain affordable, smaller, rental apartment units. This allows a developer to create more economical units on a smaller footprint of land. The cost in development today is mostly composed of land cost and extremely high labour and materials construction cost. When these items are divided by more units, the cost per unit is reduced.


The issue of height of a building is obviously a major deterrent in creating more units. However it also is a huge benefit in providing more construction funding to create a more attractive building.


A prime example of this exists on the Meredith lands with the three-story condominium building that was constructed there. It’s quite obvious, now that the building is in place, that a taller structure would have been much more attractive in that setting and site. It would have also provided additional funds to have enhanced the architectural elements and exterior of the structure.


… Importantly is the social aspect that some smaller more affordable rental apartment units would bring to the Chelsea community. Currently there are very few opportunities for young people and seniors to continue to live in this community.


When a young person moves from their family home and perhaps gets married, they cannot afford to purchase a house in Chelsea. When a senior citizen downsizes from their home ownership and wishes to continue to live in this community in a rental apartment, there is not an option to do so. To continue this trend will in fact affect the demographics of our community for years to come.


We are also developing a legitimate tourist town. Many of our businesses rely on moderately paid staff to function…. Rental accommodation is... necessary to service this segment of the population.


We have the opportunity to fulfil a mandate where people can live, work and play in our service industry. We obviously believe and support non-vehicular, alternative methods of transportation as displayed in our support for active transportation. This policy goes hand-in-hand with creating appropriate local affordable housing initiatives encouraging people to use non-vehicle methods of attending work locally.


I am recommending that the time to act is now while there are still a few parcels of land to be developed. It should be a municipal requirement for any plan of subdivision, which comes before the planning committee and council, that it is to include a project of affordable rental apartments.


Bruce Langer

Chelsea, QC

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