PELC hosting free learning series on affordable housing approaches and correlating community benefits

Prince Edward Learning Centre (Sarah Williams/Gazette Staff)

Prince Edward Learning Centre will be hosting a series of free learning centres later this winter that focuses on various approaches to affordable housing and how communities benefit.

Guest speakers from leading community organizations will share their experiences with community-based solutions to help create more affordable housing, address staffing shortages, and harness community wealth in January and February. The three-part “lean-in” learning series is presented by Prince Edward Learning Centre, in partnership with THRIVE Prince Edward County.

THRIVE is a community-led development of a collaborative vision for the future of Prince Edward County and asks the community to “envision and take action on the community we want to have here.”

The series kicks off Monday, January 30 at 10 a.m. at the Wellington and District Community Centre with a discussion of how communities are taking action on affordable housing. The session will include a question-and-answer period with the audience.

Nat Pace, national network coordinator with the Canadian National Network for Community Land Trusts, will share how communities across the country are contributing to a healthy ecosystem of community-owned affordable housing.

He will be joined by Joshua Barndt, executive director of the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust. PNLT is a not-for-profit community land trust, led by a group of residents and organizations working to protect the social, cultural and economic diversity of their Toronto neighbourhood. Through a community ownership model, PNLT ensures land uses meet the needs of the community. Non-profit partners lease the land to provide affordable housing, furnish spaces for social enterprises and other non-profits, and offer urban agriculture and open space. The group promotes community participation to help guide land use, and keep it affordable and diverse.

The next learning session takes place on Thursday, February 9. Carly Gasparini of Community Builders will give a Zoom presentation on social enterprise. Community Builders is a not-for-profit construction-based social enterprise located in Sudbury. They provide training, employment and affordable housing to meet the growing needs of their community’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations. Participants will learn how the group got started, and what they are up to now.

The third session in the learning series, on Monday, February 13, will explore community benefits agreements. Speaking via Zoom, Rosemarie Powell of the Toronto Community Benefits Network will explain how CBAs are used to ensure construction, infrastructure and development projects meet specific social value outcomes, such as hiring, training, or procurement. These legally enforced agreements make sure projects enhance social, cultural, environmental, and economic opportunities for the community.

All members of the public are invited to attend these free learning events. To register for one or more sessions, call Chris Durant at Prince Edward Learning Centre at 613-476-1811 or email inspire@pelc.ca.

Prince Edward Learning Centre is a strong advocate of lifelong learning. They support individuals in Prince Edward County to reach their learning goals by providing programs that increase literacy and essential skills and offer educational and employment upgrading and training. PELC focuses on community development because they believe collaboration and civic engagement are powerful tools that strengthen individuals and communities.

-Staff