ANTIGONISH: The organizers of Riverside Estates held an open house last weekend to officially christen four new affordable housing units on a site located just outside the town boundaries.
The Antigonish Affordable Housing Society (AAHS) welcomed several visitors and community partners to the Riverside Drive building that now houses four housing units. Located just inside the county boundaries on a piece of land formerly owned by the town, the first wave of Riverside Estates developments received a combined $100,000 from the federal and provincial governments, an equal amount from the Municipality of the County of Antigonish and the same financial contribution from the Sisters of St. Martha, many of whom were on hand for the opening ceremonies on March 25.
As well, according to AAHS board chair Colleen Cameron, the Town of Antigonish donated the land that now houses Riverside Estates and could see as many as 10 additional units built over the next 14 months.
“This is a drop in the bucket – our vision is that we will do more,” Cameron told The Reporter in the late stages of Saturday morning’s 90-minute open house event.
“We decided that we were going to go with these four, so people could see what we’re doing and we would demonstrate the need [for more], and then we’re going to be raising funds. And we’re hoping that by next May, just over a year from now, we can start building [the next 10 units].”
With such amenities as energy-efficient kitchen appliances, accessible washrooms and showers, and a barrier-free approach on both floors, Cameron is hoping the next round of accessible-housing units will improve on this model with such additions as solar panels.
In the meantime, the AAHS and its partners are enthusiastic about making even a small contribution to alleviate a strain on affordable housing units that has existed in Antigonish and the surrounding communities for the past quarter-century.
“What makes Antigonish a bit different is the university, which brings in lots of wonderful students but also inflates the rates of housing in this particular [area],” Cameron pointed out.
“For a town this size, our apartment rents, our housing rents are quite high, given the size. But that’s because of the university, and that creates a problem in that sense. And there are people that live in the county only because they can’t afford to live in the town. But then you’ve got the challenge of transportation, which is another big issue.”
With this in mind, Riverside Estates is splitting its renters evenly between those who live in the Town of Antigonish and those who currently live in the county, to provide fairness to all sides.
“We’re right on the dividing line here,” she noted.