Towns are not legally permitted to financially support private (that is, for profit) companies unless they are meeting a community need AND it’s covered by a “Community Improvement Plan” (CIP). So far in Cobourg, we have two CIPs: the Tannery District CIP and the Downtown Vitalization CIP. On December 5, a third CIP project was launched with an open house. Held in the Citizen’s Forum at Victoria Hall, more than 30 people came to learn about the new Plan for Affordable and Rental Housing and provide feedback to the consultants hired to develop the plan. The intent is to define ways to assist the recently released Northumberland County Affordable Housing Strategy (AHS) as well as promoting sustainable, accessible economic development. The launch meeting explained what a CIP is, its benefits and where affordable housing fits in the spectrum of housing needs.
Note that charitable organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Trinity Housing Corporation may legally be supported by the Town without a CIP because they are not “Private” corporations.
At the meeting, Director of Planning Glenn McGlashon talked about what is being done by the Town and County and then the consultant (MHBC) went through the material provided (available from Engage Cobourg).
What is a Community Improvement Plan (CIP)?
- First, the area must be specified in the Town’s Official Plan – and it is. The entire Town (as in this case) can be the subject of a CIP or it can be just a part of the Town like previous CIPs.
- It targets a community need such as brownfield development (e.g. the Tannery District) or rehabilitation of a specific area (e.g. Downtown) or in this case Affordable Housing.
- It provides incentives such as waiving of fees, grants or loans.
But a CIP is NOT:
- A land use plan (that’s done by the official Plan)
- A plan to define heights and/or densities
- A housing subsidy, housing support or rental or income support program (these are managed by the County)
- A construction plan
- A service for physical improvements or contractors (e.g. it does not provide a list of possible contractors)
As mentioned during the presentation by the County on their new Affordable Housing Strategy, a CIP to define assistance to developers helps get affordable housing built in Cobourg.
What is Affordable Housing?
Simply put, if you spend more than 30% of your gross income on housing, it’s not affordable. There is more on this subject at the earlier post. All levels of Government are involved with helping to alleviate this concern. It’s complicated but in essence, all levels of Government provide financial assistance in various ways – some direct to households and some to developers to incentivize them to build housing that includes at least some units that are affordable.
Affordable Housing is part of a continuum illustrated by the graphic below.
Green dots were used to get people to indicate on a chart what type of incentives they would prefer:
- Application fee reductions
- Tax Incentives
- Development Charges Waiver
- Financing (Grants/Loans) for conversions, retrofits/upgrades
- Streamlined/Fast Tracked Approvals
- Other – write your suggestion on a post it note
Also, postcards were provided where people could write their comments, questions or feedback.
The Schedule is:
- Open House #2 – January 23, 2020, 6-8 pm
- Open House #3 – April 14, 2020, 2- 4 pm
- Public Meeting – April 14, 2020, 5 pm
- Regular Council meeting – May 11, 2020, 6 pm Final report and Council decision.
This project is on the Town’s web site complete with all material at Engage Cobourg.
Here are some photos of the event.