A housing idea promoted last summer by Matthew Shoemaker during his successful mayoral campaign is on the agenda for Monday’s city council meeting.
Ward 2 Coun. Luke Dufour and his Ward 3 counterpart Angela Caputo will introduce two resolutions about affordable housing.
One is a densification approach being tried in Barrie, Ont., that Shoemaker made part of his mayoral platform.
Barrie’s New Foundations program invites places of worship and owners of institutional-zoned properties (like community centres and assisted-living facilities) to apply for funding for affordable housing feasibility studies.
“By implementing a program like the New Foundations program that has been rolled out successfully in Barrie, we can encourage under-utilized land to be used for multi-unit housing projects,” Shoemaker said in a campaign announcement last June.
“We have seen this type of project work in our community, both at the Trinity Tower project at the corner of Northern Avenue and Great Northern Road, and at the Royal Canadian Legion property on Great Northern Road,” Shoemaker said last year.
“What we now need is a concerted effort to take what has worked for those projects and implement it across the community, with the main push being on development in the downtown area.”
“Sault Ste. Marie has many underutilized properties that could benefit from redevelopment and densification,” Dufour and Caputo say in their resolution to be presented Monday.
The following are full texts of their two resolutions on affordable housing:
Affordable housing – New Foundations Program
Mover: Coun. L. Dufour
Seconder: Coun. A. Caputo
Whereas the City of Barrie has adopted a land-use planning approach that encourages the densification and re-development of underutilized properties, with the municipality contributing to the preliminary steps required to determine the greatest and best use of any individual property; and
Whereas Sault Ste. Marie has many underutilized properties that could benefit from redevelopment and densification; and
Whereas densification of properties in existing built-up areas of the community promotes the greater use of existing municipal services, including transit, water, sewer and other linear infrastructure
Now therefore be it resolved that the Affordable Housing Task Force be requested to review the New Foundations program implemented in the City of Barrie and make a recommendation to council on whether a similar program could be implemented locally, and, if the recommendation is to implement such a program, make further recommendations on the structure of such a program, including the required budget.
Vacant property tax to support affordable housing
Mover: Coun. A. Caputo
Seconder: Coun. L. Dufour
Whereas the City of Sault Ste Marie has seen a large increase in vacant homes and properties in the last 10 years, including a large increase in out-of-town investors buying property and allowing it to sit empty; and
Whereas much like the rest of the province, Sault Ste. Marie is in need of more housing, specifically affordable housing; and
Whereas council has identified housing affordability as a major issue in Sault Ste. Marie with a need to identify available tools to address this issue, thus creating The Affordable Housing Task Force; and
Whereas if successful, the vacant property tax would be a tool aimed at changing the behaviour of property owners and help release more housing to the market, as well as lowering the number of boarded up properties within the community; and
Whereas any revenue generated from this tax could go directly toward supporting affordable housing initiatives identified by the Affordable Housing Task Force;
Now therefore be it resolved that the Affordable Housing Task Force review and report back to council on the feasibility and benefit of implementing a vacant property tax in Sault Ste. Marie.
Included in this report would be the definition of vacant for the purpose of the tax, parameters of implementation and enforcement, comparisons with other municipalities who have implemented a similar tax, an estimate on the amount of revenue that could be generated, and the rate at which vacant properties would be charged.
Monday’s city council meeting will be live-streamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.