Antigonish town and county back affordable housing plan

ANTIGONISH: Town and county councils are backing a proposed affordable housing development.

The Antigonish Affordable Housing Society (AAHS) is speaking to funding partners regarding their proposal for a new multi-unit apartment complex near the Antigonish Education Centre and St. Andrew Junior School.

Society chair Colleen Cameron said the number of units they are looking at for the moment is 15 but that could change based on further assessment and planning. Cameron said they are certainly thinking about housing families with children, with the building being close to schools, but the number of bedrooms in the units will vary.

On December 2, Antigonish Town Council voted to approve $100,000 in funding over five years for the project. The next day, the Municipality of the County of Antigonish’s committee-of-the-whole recommended regular council offer the same amount of funding. Both municipalities offered the funding with conditions the society secure further funding and that the project go to tender.

Cameron said the society will approach another local funding partner and Housing Nova Scotia before moving on to applying for funding from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

“Lining up all of these partners is going to put us in better stead to receive CMHC funding because they look for that kind of partnership,” said Cameron.

While in support of the project, Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher said she doesn’t want to see the town’s operating budget hindered by the grant. This means the funds would come from either the discretionary fund or through a tax rate increase.

“Every [time] that we spend as a municipality for a provincial responsibility, is something that we’re not spending money on for our municipal responsibilities,” she said. “We can’t just say ‘it’s a good project, let’s do it.’ We have to have all of the information in front of us before we make a decision.”

Warden Owen McCarron said the society outlined the scope of the project and council felt the contribution was a reasonable request given the size of the proposed facility. While committee-of-the-whole can only recommend council offer the funding, the warden said it’s pretty much a formality.

“I don’t see anything that would change that decision,” said McCarron. “We all know there is a huge need there and… when you have a group of volunteers like Colleen Cameron and the whole board, decisions like that become a lot easier for our council.”

Riverside Estates is a 14-unit affordable housing complex set up by the society on Hope Lane. Even with another affordable housing project, Cameron said there will likely still be a need for such housing for some time.

“There is a big need out there but [the new project] will make a difference for a number of people,” Cameron said. “It will certainly have an impact on the community.”

Cameron said there are excited to look at the new build and thanked everyone for their support.