Lot earmarked for Habitat project is too small

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Clarenville council working to provide affordable housing as part of its agenda

The effort to get one Clarenville family a lower-cost place to live hit a setback last week because of a mistake in town maps.

Coun. David Harris reported at the council meeting on Nov. 19 that they had found a 60 x 80-foot vacant lot on Sandy Street. However, when town employees measured the lot a couple days later they found it was 76 feet deep, which is too shallow for a home, according to the town’s development plan.

“We searched everywhere for a piece of land,” says Harris. “There’s some land the town owns on Sandy Street. It’s been there for years. It’s vacant on the left-hand side going in. We’d hoped we’d be able to carve at least one building lot out of that.”

People living adjacent to the lot also informed council that the lot is prone to flooding.

Harris made a motion to approve donation of the lot to Habitat for Humanity during the Nov. 19 council meeting, but that decision has now been reversed.

Over 40 per cent of people who rent in Clarenville were paying more than what’s considered affordable housing costs in 2011, according to a Statistics Canada survey, and the average housing cost was $870 monthly, while it was $757 provincewide.

The Town of Clarenville makes providing affordable housing part of its agenda in its municipal plan. Under housing, it lists one of its goals to “accommodate a range of housing types to satisfy market needs and ensure affordable housing is available for residents of different income levels, age groups, family structures and disability needs.”

Harris says the town will continue looking for suitable land to donate, and there are a few other possibilities.

A lot of town-owned land hasn’t been hooked up to water or sewer, and getting services put there would only be affordable with major development, such as subdivisions, that would take years to complete.

Habitat for Humanity provides a family with a home they must help build themselves, after they’re chosen through an application process, and the family has to pay back an interest-free mortgage.

Volunteers recently set up a Clarenville chapter of Habitat for Humanity and Colin Holloway is the chairman. He says he was disappointed to hear the Sandy Street location isn’t suited for a home.

“This is new,” he says. “There are a lot of hurdles you come across and this is just a little bump in the road.”

The chapter may have to go to a developer to ask for a donation of a lot from an existing subdivision. It’s something they’ve discussed as a Plan B if the town couldn’t find land. Holloway says they’ll discuss that strategy during their next meeting.

“There may be developers that have a great understanding and a big heart and might be interested in being a partner in this,” he says.

Habitat for Humanity projects are currently underway in Paradise, St. Anthony and Labrador City.

The Packet

Organizations: Habitat for Humanity, Clarenville council, Statistics Canada

Geographic location: Sandy Street, Clarenville, St. Anthony

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