LoveSong Seniors Housing and Community Hub project facilitator Ken How brought good news to the Jan. 9th Committee of the Whole Meeting.
How announced to council that the necessary funds had been raised to continue their affordable seniors housing initiative at the derelict Pinecrest Memorial Elementary School.
“I’m in a really unusual position now, telling you I have money for you. We have reached our goal of being able to reimburse the County the $375,000 that previous council paid to HPEDSB to purchase Pinecrest,” said How, elated.
The agreement struck between the LoveSong project facilitators and the previous council came due last week, just in time for How to make his announcement to council.
The site of the future LoveSong affordable housing is 46,000 square feet situated on approximately 20 acres of land.
The old school will be remodelled into 50 units, each approximately 400 square feet. Each unit will have a bed/sitting area, a fridge/microwave/counter/sink and private washroom with walk-in shower. The site will also include a shared lounge, kitchen, dining and laundry facilities, along with a three season courtyard.
The existing gymnasium, used for decades as part of the school, will be transformed into a community hub, being a space for fitness classes, theatre or other hobbies.
“Part of the agreement we struck with the County 18 months ago indicated there would be things we need to share, such as carrying costs….that may be something that when we get to the final point we’re negotiating with,” said How.
“I don’t need to educate you any more about the urgent need for affordable housing. Treat Hull, I understand, was here a few days ago addressing the urgency of this,” How stated. “We’ve worked really hard over the past year and a half to do the due diligence necessary to make this ‘a go’. Once we have the key in hand, it’ll be very quick to start moving ahead.”
How added that, although the project has been moving “painfully slowly” it would not be able to move ahead whatsoever without their tremendous amount of volunteers.
“We’ve got all kinds of volunteers, and that’s why we’ve been able to move ahead. We’ve got lawyers, a chartered accountant, a civil engineer, architects. It’s looking really good and I’m really pleased,” beamed How.
Part of LoveSong’s team of volunteers is Phil Spry, a successful builder of affordable housing in Belleville.
“We really need him (Spry) on board because you have to have two years of experience building affordable housing in order to apply for a lot of the funding. He’s got three builds in Belleville so far and close to 100 units,” added How.
“We have to have council on board in order to get certain types of funding. You have to have the building to get the funding and be ‘shovel ready’ in order to get Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and Trillium Foundation Funding. The pieces are slowly coming together and we hope to be able to introduce you to the building really soon,” said How.
Councillor Ernie Margetson inquired as to when How expected the doors to LoveSong would open.
“What would a timeline be for converting that building once you’re in ownership of it,” asked Margetson.
How asserted the project should be completed in two years, with the joint venture between LoveSong and Spry, the builder, accelerating the time frame for LoveSong.
“I know as a former long distance runner, I am absolutely confident you will not stop until you cross that finish line. This is a big deal for this community-thank you and your crew for your tremendous work,” enthused Councillor Janice Maynard.
The deputation from How was received as a Bailey/Margetson motion.