Staff recommend approval of Habitat project for back-to-back towns on Plains/Glendor

To committee May 26; council June 9

Habitat for Humanity HaltonPlanning staff are recommending approval of a proposal to rezone 1325 & 1331 Plains Road East and 1025 Glendor Ave. for 12 back-to-back townhouses and one, one-storey accessible unit. The proposal requires an Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw Amendment.

The units would be built by Habitat for Humanity under their plan to help low income families or individuals with minimum annual income of $24,000 up to $65,500 maximum to become home owners.

Habitat builds the home and provides mortgages in exchange for recipients’ volunteering 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ towards construction of their home, or to Habitat programs such as the ReStore or in the office supporting the delivery of programs. The units are priced from the start at market value; when sold, the mortgages are paid off and any additional equity stays with the family or individual.

Read more about the Habitat homeownership model here.

The Development & Infrastructure Committee, which includes all members of council, will review the proposal at a public meeting May 26, 6:30pm, Council Chambers, Level 2, 426 Brant St. Any recommendation from the D&I committee will go to the June 9 City Council meeting, 6:30pm, for a final vote. Residents can attend and speak at both meetings by registering in advance online here or by phone at 905.335.7600, x7490.

The staff report is online here

My Take: I am not a fan of back-to-back townhouses, especially for families, as I believe children need yards that are in close proximity to their home, so parents can keep an eye on them. Though standard townhomes with yards were previously suggested and considered, staff advised against it, as simply separating the townhomes would create a small tunnel between homes. However, a different site layout may have been able to accommodate townhomes. I’m told the site will include some greenspace and possibly a play area; more details should be available in the staff report or at the public meeting.

The zoning on this property permits a range of uses, including townhouses and detached dwellings. The staff report will provide additional detail on why the Official Plan and Zoning need to be amended to facilitate this development. Generally, I do not believe we should be varying our Official Plan and Zoning unless it is to achieve policy goals that advance the common good, including affordable housing and/or rental housing.

These units are not “affordable housing” in the usual sense, because they are priced and sold at market value, however the Habitat model does allow families and individuals to become home owners on very limited incomes – so it’s affordable housing in that sense. As a result, I am open to considering this project as a way to advance housing for low income residents, but will wait for the staff report and public meeting to hear more details before making a final decision.

Your Take: What’s your view of this proposal? Leave a comment below.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

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  1. It is a bit misleading to say that this project in on Plains Road because it is in fact tucked away on old Plains Road inside what is commonly referred to as the Leighland Community. This neighbourhood has more that tripled in size over the last 30 years and the problem has always been that it is land locked with only two ways in and out. The Helena/Plains Road intersection has no traffic light and the design of the intersection was reconfigured in the early ’90’s for reasons I’m not quite sure of as it made no sense then and still doesn’t other than it created for more on street parking for Ressel Day Care and created a bit more of bend onto Old Plains Road past Ressel heading towards Glendor. It’s not ideal and yet when you ask staff the question, they say not a problem and no need for a traffic signal. Those of us that have lived in the area for a long time are very aware of the impact of high density and it is quite likely that staff have no idea how to reconfigure the Helena/Plains Road intersection to bring it up to anything close to how it should be designed because the space and buildings in the area don’t allow for it.

    Yes, there is a need for housing of this nature but this type of infill needs to be looked at in it’s entirety as part of the whole neighbourhood and consideration as to how it will all work together not just today but in the future. My feeling is that this is not happening. The trend today is high density and infill of the older neighbourhoods on one hand and then much discussion about congestion on our roads and highways on the other. Where is the convenient public transit to make this high density work? We can’t have it all ways.

    I am not in favour of back to back town homes and the cramming in of as much as the developer can get away with which is happening throughout Burlington not just here. The site is already prepped ready to go, so despite the fact that I am unable to attend Monday’s council meeting, I already have the feeling what’s the point? Would I just be getting the opportunity to rant? The rubber stamp is going on regardless.

  2. Once again, the laws of supply and demand demonstrate that they can’t be fooled with. If you decrease the amount of available land for residential development then don’t be surprised if the value of that land and the buildings on it go up. Burlington has now become a community where the only affordable housing it can attract is from Habitat for Humanity – sad.

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