By Chad Ingram
A $6.8 million development the Kawartha Lakes Haliburton Housing Corporation plans to build at the intersection of Highway 35 and County Road 21 will bring 30 additional affordable rental units to Minden.
During a Sept. 24 meeting, Minden Hills councillors heard a delegation from housing corporation CEO Hope Lee and Tim Welch of Tim Welch and Associates about the development, which is planned to include 15 duplexes, each duplex containing two 800-square-foot accessible townhouses. Each unit will have parking out front.
“This is a particularly exciting project for KLH Housing, as it will become our first public-private partnership,” Lee told council. “Both the Kawartha Lakes Housing and Mr. Switzer of F.W. Gwillim hope this project becomes a model for others.”
The parcel of land located to the west of Highway 35 at its intersection with County Road 21 is owned by Bill Switzer of real estate firm F.W. Gwillim. As Lee explained to council, Switzer is a longtime seasonal resident of the area. Switzer and the housing corporation entered into a letter of understanding in 2019.
“That letter of understanding outlines the roles that each of us will play as the property owned by F.W. Gwillim is developed,” Lee said.
“While the project will receive from both the housing corporation and Mr. Switzer, it’s important to highlight the significant contribution of Mr. Switzer toward this project,” Lee said. “Without his support, including the land, this project would not be possible or considered. A longtime seasonal resident of the county, Mr. Swtizer has owned this parcel of land for many years. This project is not only his dream for the land, but his way to give back to this community. Mr. Switzer will be involved in the development of the project, however once developed, the project will transfer to Kawartha Lakes Haliburton Housing Corporation, and the housing corporation will own and operate the development.”
The housing corporation will be seeking funding from a number of sources, and is looking to Minden Hills township for official plan and zoning amendments required for the project to proceed. The site is currently zoned highway commercial, and it needs to be rezoned to medium-density residential.
The housing corporation was also looking to the township to donate a road allowance at the site, and the waiver of fees including application fees and charges, securities required as part of site plan, as well as building permit fees.
“This is a project that actually the housing task force has been involved with right from the beginning, in 2018,” said Councillor Bob Carter, who is a member of the task force, “and we’re really excited to see it come to fruition. I have personally spoke to some of the neighbours of this project and a number of other groups within the municipality who, in normal times, would be in the audience and be willing to speak out in favour of this project. So, for the most part, right across the whole township, people are excited about this project.”
Councillor Pam Sayne, also a member of the housing task force, noted the development does not include much green space, but that it will be located directly beside Rotary Park, and said she’d like to see a lit pathway connecting the development to the park included in the plan.
Mayor Brent Devolin said that council was prepared to pass a resolution at that meeting addressing the corporation’s requests to send a message to the county and the City of Kawartha Lakes that the township is fully on board with the project.
“As Councillor Carter has said, and Councillor Sayne, there’s been a lot of work done by these two members of council and others, like yourself [Lee], that it kind of just, almost after two years, kind of pops above the waterline, but just to send a clear signal to everybody of our huge support for this,” Devolin said. “And certainly, the public-private [aspect], you know, there’s market failure with respect to residential housing, both in Haliburton County and within the city, and this is potentially an answer to some of the challenges that we have.”
Council passed a resolution instructing staff to draw up documentation for the donation of the road allowance, to prepare documentation for official plan and zoning amendments, and waiving all the requested fees.
If all goes according to the housing corporation’s timelines, construction on the project would get underway in April of 2021 and be ready for occupancy in May of 2022.