A new proposal would see the site of the Bracebridge Memorial Arena transformed into an affordable housing “micro-community” with 50 or more housing units, community gardens, a playground and other amenities.
The proposal was put forward by the Muskoka Community Land Trust (MCLT) during this morning’s Bracebridge General Committee Meeting.
Representatives from the Land Trust said Phase 1 of the project would include the creation of two structures, each with 10 townhouses. Those would be 2-3 bedroom units, two-storey buildings with driveways and parking, as well as the potential for duplexing or secondary dwelling units within. Phase two would include a purpose-built, four-level multi-unit residential/commercial building and ground-floor accessible residential units.
The project would also include an indoor recreation space with options for indoor youth and an active living centre, a community space and a daycare. Outdoor recreation spaces would include a landscaped walking loop with a physical activity circuit, bike parking, a drinking water fountain, seating, picnic tables, community gardens, a dog run and a playground.
The Land Trust said their target market will be people earning 75-100% AMI (Area Median Income) first-time home buyers, seniors, single-parent families, downtown employees and vulnerable populations.
To make it all happen, the Trust said they’ll need a number of things from the District and the Town. That includes a land grant, tax deferral and relief from development fees and permit applications, to help keep the project affordable.
The committee expressed support for the project, citing the community’s ever-increasing need for affordable housing.
“Affordable housing has been an issue that’s like a snowball rolling downhill and the need is growing exponentially,” said Coun. Don Smith.
CAO Stephen Rettie said under the 2023 Town business plan they are looking at the arena site and the future disposition of the property. The demolition of the arena has been awarded as part of the new arena contract but he cautioned there are challenges with the Memorial Arena site including the fact some parts of the block are not under town ownership.
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