TBM council approves development, despite no affordable units

The Blue Mountains council has approved a zoning bylaw amendment for the Long Point Plan of subdivision, despite the last council's protest over a lack of affordable/attainable housing units in the proposal.

Council passed the bylaw in a 4-2 vote (Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon was absent) at its meeting on Nov. 28. Councillors Paula Hope and June Porter opposed the approval of the bylaw.

Members of the previous council had expressed frustration that the development proposal had come forward without any affordable units being included. Project planner Andrew Pascuzzo was a delegation at the Nov. 28 meeting and requested that council approve the bylaw to allow the 22-unit development to proceed. Terra Brook Homes is the proponent of the project, which is located just north of Highway 26 on Long Point Road.

Before the vote, Hope raised the issue of affordable/attainable units and said housing has become a major issue just about everywhere.

“It is a key concern of the town, the province and even Canada,” said Hope, who pointed out the development is for 22 single-family units on fairly large lots. “I’m uncomfortable with that. I’m loath to vote in favour.”

In response, Pascuzzo said the developer will not consider affordable units at this location.

“In my respectful opinion, this is not the location for affordable housing,” he said, noting that town council and staff should be considering areas in Thornbury to be set aside for affordable/attainable housing. “In this area, we’d have conflict between the existing neighbours.”

In her reply, Hope noted that the provincial government is making housing a priority through Bill 23 and all municipalities have to deal with this reality.

“Things have changed very quickly and very rapidly during the process of this application,” said Hope. “Council is dealing with a very new day."

Coun. Porter raised a number of questions about drainage and stormwater issues. Pascuzzo said there are drainage plans to come for the development. Pascuzzo also said he feels the proposal fits the requirement for a mixture of housing as the lots have smaller frontages and the size of the homes are approximately 2,000 square feet.

Other members of council did not want to hold up the development due to affordable housing concerns.

“I don’t know how we can impose affordable housing on this. It’s the 11th hour and it wasn’t in our official plan,” said coun. Gail Ardiel, who said she was concerned the town could end up at the Land Planning Appeal Tribunal if council rejected the zoning bylaw amendment. “We need to let the process keep going.”

The application first came to the town in 2018 and town planning staff noted that did have concerns that delaying the bylaw would cause the town to miss statutory deadlines for the project.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca