York Region offered a glimpse into the future affordable housing building coming to Bayview Parkway in Newmarket, but the project still remains several years away after a year of planning.
Residents heard about progress on the plans at a virtual information centre June 22, approximately one year after the region approved using its 62 Bayview Parkway property for housing development.
Regional representatives said construction might not begin until 2024-25. Ward 3 Councillor Jane Twinney said it will be important to get resident input in the meantime, but the project will help fulfill a significant need.
“I speak to residents all the time, many of them are single moms and struggling and don’t have adequate housing,” she said. “To see that we’re going to be providing an incredible building in our community, that’s going to be somewhere where people are going to be proud to live, I think is going to be so important.”
The property used to contain the former York Region headquarters, which the region demolished in recent months. Staff said the demolition would be finished by the end of July, with some grass restoration to follow.
The region is starting bidding for a senior architect to begin designing. Staff are aiming to submit planning applications in spring 2023.
York’s affordable housing development manager Melissa McEnroe said there is no dedicated funding for the build yet, but they hope to have plans in place to be ready when funding is available from upper levels of government.
“We really are seeing a trend in awarding the funding to the best-suited project, and one that can happen quickly,” she said. “That is exactly why we’re preparing ourselves across the region."
Details are not yet in the place for what the new building might look like. Staff said it could have up to 250 units, but the exact number and size of the building are to be determined. But it will have 70 per cent subsidized housing and 30 per cent market rate, as with other properties from Housing York, the region’s housing provider.
Affordable housing development program manager Sabrina Greggain spoke about the regional housing need in the region with 15,000 on the central waiting list.
“This project looks awesome, but a small drop in the bucket of what’s needed,” area resident Susan Werden said.
Major John Taylor acknowledged the scope of the challenge. He said Housing York plans to increase its rate of development but addressing the wider issue will take more partnerships.
“There’s a lot of work being done, there’s a lot of momentum and a lot of optimism, but it’s still a big hill to climb, and that waitlist speaks volumes,” he said.
Staff highlighted possibilities for the future development, such as using passive housing principles to make it highly energy efficient. Residents were also invited to start providing their input into the future direction of the project.
Dave Kempton of Cycle Newmarket raised ensuring bicycle parking and on-street bike lanes in the area.
“We’re hoping the residents have ample opportunities to use their bicycles,” he said.
McEnroe said bike parking is part of the development standards in Newmarket, and they are happy to support bicycle networks.
Maggie Fullerton suggested a space for the community to grow vegetables, which Twinney complimented.
“A community garden there, considering the type of location it is, would be a great idea to have there,” she said.
The region said its next information session update would be in early 2023 with more detailed plans. You can send comments or questions to [email protected].