three years later, Guelph co-housing pitch returning to council

Three years later, a proposal to build a co-housing development will be returning to council.

According to documents posted on the city’s website, council next month will get its second look at plans to redevelop 205-213 Speedvale Ave. E

The proposal, first made public in February 2019, sees property owners Mike Fortin and Vicki Beard looking to tear down 205, 207 and 211 Speedvale Ave E., just west of Delhi Street, replacing them with a three-storey, 21-unit building . The home at 213 Speedvale would also be converted into a triplex.

As previously reported by the Mercury Tribune, the new apartments would be under a co-housing model, where residents would own their own units in a fashion similar to a condo development, but there would also be a central home with shared amenities for everyone to use.

While the development plan itself is largely unchanged since its April 2019 public meeting, provincial policy changes means the to-be developers now have to change what they are looking for from city hall.

Under the original application, the developers were looking to increase the property’s residential density in exchange for providing “affordable housing to low and moderate income households, sustainable design features and protection and enhancement of natural features,” according to a city staff report at the time .

However, due to changes to the Planning Act at Queen’s Park, the city can no longer accept such agreements, and the developers must now apply for an amendment to the city’s official plan — something that did not need to be done under the original application.

When the Speedvale proposal was first made public, Fortin told the Mercury Tribune that with land becoming more and more scarce, more and more people will one day be living in multi-residential developments, such as apartments or condos. But with that move, he said, comes a loss of community.

“That’s what Europe is like now with the cost of housing,” he said of more people moving to multi-residential living situations.

“Condo living or apartment living is isolating. You usually don’t know your neighbors, you’re restricted in what you can do in the home. So this is an alternative.”

According to the Canadian Co-Housing Network, there are currently 48 co-housing projects in the country either up and running or in some stage of development — 13 more than when the Speedvale project was first made public.

Of those, the Canadian Co-Housing Network lists 11 such projects in Ontario, with the 12-family Terra Firma project in Ottawa being the sole one in operation.

The Speedvale project will be returning to council for its second public meeting — no official decisions on the project will be made — at the May 9 planning meeting, starting at 6:30 pm The meeting will be streamed live online at guelph.ca/live .

Anyone looking to provide a delegation at this meeting is required to register with the city clerk’s office no later than 10 am on May 6. To register, call 519-837-5603, TTY 519-826-9771, send an email to [email protected] guelph.ca or go online to guelph.ca/delegate.

Written submissions can be sent to the clerk’s office, also by the May 6 deadline.

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