It was a dazzling sunny day with even brighter smiles and compliments all round on the lips of politicians from all levels of government recently as they congregated to celebrate the ground breaking of a new community housing development that will provide some desperately needed affordable rental housing to the area.
The event, in front of machinery ready to work, at 5676 Main St. in Stouffville signalled a long-awaited fruition of efforts from, what all in attendance agreed, was unprecedented cooperation along with funding from various levels of government, representing different political persuasions.
While York Region has branded the project a “community housing development” which may provide negative connotations to some minds, politicians were clear this is a very different beast than low-income housing projects of old.
The site, part of a larger regional plan to build more affordable rental housing, will provide a total of 97 new units in a 6-story building that will host a mix of affordable and market rent units that will, by design, house individuals, young families, seniors and couples.
Owned and operated by Housing York Inc., York Region’s affordable housing company, the building will feature energy and resource efficiencies up to LEED Gold standards, rooftop patio common areas as well as indoor activity spaces, will cost about $44 million and be completed by spring 2024.
With a plan to allocate 70% of the new units as affordable and 30 per cent market rate and 15 per cent being fully accessible, the inventory is a welcome addition to a community that has long been starved for rental units.
The Main St. building is being presented as phase one of a larger housing plan with details of phase two to be crystalized soon, but still within Stouffville confirmed Regional Councillor and Newmarket Mayor John Taylor, speaking on behalf of York Region council.
Area MPP Paul Calandra offered that “building affordable housing is an important part of our government’s plan to help all Ontarians find a home that meets their needs and keeps costs down. This investment, in partnership with the federal government, will offer more families the choice to make Stouffville their home, while helping them keep more of their hard-earned money for life’s essentials.”
Stouffville Mayor Iain Lovatt, supported by town councillors Rick Upton, Richard Bartley and Hugo Kroon, also noted the unusual cooperation between governments and noted that working on a project like this was “some of the most rewarding work this term of council at a regional level has done”.
He goes on to say that opening the doors of the facility will be an emotional experience noting that “there are people in our community and region that right now are really, really struggling and what this represents is a fresh start for many. “Addressing housing affordability requires collective action that supports private and public sectors working together to develop innovative solutions. This is exactly one of them.”