Town applying for grant for affordable housing project

by Colin Smith

Town Council has decided to move ahead with a grant application that could bring new affordable housing to Morinville.

The grant sought would be through the Rapid Housing Initiative of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and would be applied for on the Town’s behalf by Grantmatch Corporation, a private entity that specializes in federal grant funding.

Morinville would be seeking funds for development of the Town-owned Houle Lands in the northwest.

One option is the construction of a three-story 36-unit affordable housing building on 1.6 hectares of the 1.8-hectare parcel, at a cost of $8 million. The other concept would see a $19 million 90-unit building, also three stories, that would take up the entire parcel.

The land is currently zoned for medium-density residential, and there are existing water, sanitary sewer and storm water connections.

Made aware of the grant program by Grantmatch, the Administration recommended going ahead with the project application, which it sees as an opportunity for partnership with the private sector.

The intention is to cover the costs associated with the development, with the grant leveraged at a nearly 20:1 funding dollar ratio, and initial costs balanced by potential partnerships and future ongoing revenues for the Town.

“We’re looking for some kind of partnership, so the Town doesn’t have to put out anything,” said Brad White Director of Planning and Economic Development.

Local developers, local homebuilders and Homeland Housing are seen as potential partners in the project.

The need for affordable housing in Morinville was last addressed in 2009 by the Community Housing Plan: No Place Like Home. The plan indicated a need for 135 affordable housing units, while Paul Krauskopf Court contains 40 such units.

As Morinville’s population has grown by approximately 25% since 2009, additional affordable units may be required.

“I think at this point in time our community needs more action on affordable housing,” said Mayor Barry Turner. “I wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity.”

“This is potentially another source of revenue beyond property tax,” pointed out Councillor Stephen Dafoe.

The motion to accept the recommendation passed unanimously.

The deadline for the grant application is December 31. If the application is successful, funding should come through by March 2021. Completion of the project is expected within 12 months.

For handling the grant application, Grantmatch’s fee would be 10 per cent of the first $1 million and 5 per cent of the remaining grant funding. They are not paid if the grant application is unsuccessful.

The $1 billion Rapid Housing Initiative aims to support the creation of 3,000 new permanent affordable housing units, as well as provide for the construction of modular housing, acquisition of land and the rehabilitation/conversion of existing buildings to affordable housing.

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