Both Plympton-Wyoming and Petrolia hope to cash in on a federal program to build affordable housing.
And in Plympton-Wyoming, it could mean up to $10 million to make it easier for developers to build duplexes to help younger homeowners get into the market and seniors move out of their larger homes.
The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation is offering a Housing Accelerator Program for municipalities under 10,000 and both Plympton-Wyoming and Petrolia are applying for the funds. Warwick Township decided to pass.
In Plympton-Wyoming, council agreed to hire the project management company Colliers to apply for the grant which could create nearly 300 more homes than already forecast in one of the fastest growing municipalities in Lambton.
Jonathan Lampman told council Aug. 9, that under the program, the municipality would be eligible for up to $10 million should it meet the federal government’s main target of increasing housing production by 10 per cent.
Lampman’s report suggests developers have already signalled interest in creating higher density housing such as garden suites, secondary suites, duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, row houses, courtyard housing, and low-rise apartments with no more than four storeys.
He estimates an additional 296 units could be built in Plympton-Wyoming, more than doubling the 210 homes projected to be built without the program.
Adam Sobanski, the town’s director of public works, says many developers want to build this type of housing.
Sobanski says until now, it hasn’t been attractive to them to start building the units.
“When there are good times, they’re hesitant to build these because their profit margins are lower.
“Well, if there’s government incentives involved that will help better those profit margins,” he told council.
Lampman says the multi-unit homes would help fill a gap in the market with younger people unable to afford a single family home to start out and retirees who not ready for retirement homes yet but are also not able to find a smaller home.
Councillor Mike Vasey says he knows people who are facing exactly that situation and is excited about the possibility of federal money helping to entice builders to provide it.
“This fits the bill…it is right up the alley of what we want…it’s a solution to an issue we’re trying to solve.”
But some councillors questioned where the semis and duplexes would go in a municipality which has been building hundreds of single family homes along the lakeshore.
Sobanski says they would be built in “transition areas” such as near major roadways or in the center of a development or beside commercial and agricultural properties. He says that is where builders normally put lower cost homes anyway.
And he says the additional 296 homes is an attainable goal.
“Many of the developers’ (plans) already have those types of housing and stock. They work well around along existing road allowances. So we won’t have to build interior private roads, they can just build them along existing roadways, so that would likely be the most common…
“I would suggest that row housing would be your highest percentage of units created.”
Plympton-Wyoming council approved a $60,000 contract with Colliers to write the grant, which had to be submitted by Aug. 18, and then to help implement the plan.
It would include developing incentives for developers to create affordable housing units and possibly giving “pre-approval” to certain home designs so developers could move quickly to get shovels in the ground. It would also “encourage” developers to partner with non-profit agencies to create affordable housing.
Meantime, Petrolia also approved an application for the Housing Accelerator Fund Aug. 16.
The town’s staff suggested Petrolia commit to encouraging accessory units on properties – commonly known as granny suites. It also suggested creating new processes like e-permitting to cut down on the time it takes to approve development, and creating consistent development charges to cover the cost of growth.
Town staff did not provide an analysis of how many more homes could be created, however the federal program requires municipalities to commit to a 10 per cent increase in housing starts.
In 2022, the town issued building permits for 44 new homes, down from 56 in 2021.
Currently, there is only one subdivision under development.
Acting Mayor Joel Field has said there are subdivisions with up to 700 new homes in various stages of the planning process.
Figures estimating how much grant money the town could expect were not provided.