LAKEFIELD, ONTARIO – We are in the midst of a housing crisis in our communities. To fully satisfy projected housing needs 796 affordable homeownership units must be built in the City and County of Peterborough by 2029.
To achieve a significant impact on the growing crisis in affordable housing in our communities, Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region recognizes that we can no longer confine our building activity to the traditional single-detached home built one or two at a time – the need for affordable housing is too great. Habitat Peterborough & Kawartha Region also recognizes the need to adapt and to build decent, affordable homes not just for low-income families, but also for low-income couples, singles, and seniors. Which is why, in 2018, Habitat Peterborough & Kawartha Region purchased a property at 44 Bridge Street in Lakefield, after completing a thorough due diligence process.
Acting in good faith based on the information provided as part of that due diligence process, Habitat Peterborough & Kawartha Region started planning to build 19 affordable housing units at 44 Bridge Street in Lakefield. Because the property had been zoned commercial since 1988, we also planned to build commercial space on the property, in keeping with existing zoning and Official Plan guidelines. It was recognized that the commercial space could be a potential revenue source to raise funds necessary to build more critically needed affordable housing in the community.
Then 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Like so many other local businesses and not-for-profit organizations, the pandemic has had drastic impacts on Habitat Peterborough & Kawartha Region’s operations. Particularly it meant the closure of our social enterprises for extensive periods of time – eliminating our largest source of income. At the same time, the need for safe, decent, and affordable housing reached catastrophic levels. Acting in the best interests of the organization and its ability to best meet the increased demand for more affordable housing right now, we began to explore all avenues to cut expenditures. This is why, acting in the best fiduciary interests of the organization and its ability to meet its immediate and forecast cash requirements, Habitat Peterborough & Kawartha Region listed 44 Bridge Street for sale on MLS in August of 2020. A firm offer was accepted on the sale of the property.
Habitat Peterborough & Kawartha Region recognizes that a recent high degree of public interest in this matter has been generated and that for some community members the existing structure at 44 Bridge Street is important. We have had conversations with members of this community group and heard their concerns and ideas. While we acknowledge that heritage buildings have value in our society, we also recognize that their conservation has a financial impact on the property owner.
To be clear, Habitat Peterborough & Kawartha Region’s expertise is in the provision of affordable homeownership. We are not, nor do we claim to be, experts in other areas, including heritage. This is why, we rely on the procedures, legislation, and information provided by city or township representatives when completing our due diligence processes on where to build affordable housing next in the Peterborough and Kawartha Region.
Habitat Peterborough & Kawartha Region operates in close partnership with the communities in which it builds and we are committed to abiding by the processes and regulations laid out by those communities. In a gesture of good faith to the Selwyn Township Council and Lakefield community, we have NOT taken any actions to demolish the existing structure at 44 Bridge Street, despite having the properly obtained demolition permit. We are committed to working with the community and Township Council through the process set out by the Selwyn Township. We are prepared to commit that we will not take any actions to demolish the existing structure at 44 Bridge Street, until the close of that process or the completion date of the sale, whichever comes first. This will allow all parties time for further discussions and exploration of options to occur.
Habitat Peterborough & Kawartha Region is tremendously grateful for the support we continue to receive from members of the community. We will continue to empower through shelter. A decent place to live and an affordable loan, help homeowners save more, invest in education, pursue opportunities, and have more financial stability.
To read Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region’s full statement to Selwyn Township Council regarding 44 Bridge Street in Lakefield, click here.
For more information on affordable homeownership opportunities in the Peterborough and Kawartha Region please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region, please contact email@example.com.
ABOUT HABITAT FOR HUMANITY PETERBOROUGH & KAWARTHA REGION
Founded in 2002, Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha is a local charitable organization working toward a world where everyone has a decent and affordable place to call home. Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families and individuals build strength, stability, and independence through affordable homeownership. Serving the City and County of Peterborough, City of Kawartha Lakes, and Haliburton Highlands area, Habitat Peterborough & Kawartha Region has helped 40 families (and 2 more families later this month) into affordable homeownership in the Peterborough and Kawartha Region. For more information, please visit habitatpkr.ca.