Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner December 10, 2020
Housing is once again on everybody’s mind. We are distressed by the pictures of the homeless being moved off their “squats” by authorities, and are constantly concerned by the numbers of poor and confused persons begging downtown.
Our society needs all kinds of housing; all price levels, all densities, all possible designs and with the health of the environment in mind.
Here in Peterborough we have a very successful and highly-regarded model of an integrated community, achieved in just eight years, The Mount Community Centre (TMCC).
As of 2020, it has 63 affordable apartment rentals, and several significant non-residential tenants who share the vision and values of the Mount, and provide a revenue stream. These tenants include St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, the Rowan Tree School, the Kawartha Land Trust and the Victorian Order of Nurses.
It has a state-of- the-art food centre which provides training and education in food preparation, and delivers meals as part of the Meals on Wheels service to seniors in the city. It has a community garden nestled in its attractive green space.
Now, the visionary board of The Mount Community Centre, led by chair Steve Kylie, is considering a new project. It is to build and sell market-value, life-leases, for 15 units which would be renovated in the oldest wing of the former convent.
The purposes are twofold, says Kylie. “First, life-leases will attract a broader diversity of people to live in the Mount spaces. Second, they will provide upfront funding for reinvesting in social housing. Life-lease holders would pay the total amount for their unit upfront. This capital can be used to build more affordable housing units.”
The “life lease” concept is not common in Peterborough. The life-lease holders purchase a condo-style unit and have a right to live in the unit for the balance of their lifetime although they do not actually own the unit.
For this reason, units will likely be somewhat cheaper in price than other condo developments in town. The owners of TMCC life-leases can sell and bequeath their unit. They do not pay rent, since they have bought outright, but they will pay a monthly maintenance fee, as happens in other condo arrangements. In addition, they can sell their unit.
Government looks kindly on such arrangements since they increase housing stock, and therefore it does not charge land-transfer taxes on the purchase of a life-lease, provided it is the principal residence of the buyer and it is sponsored by a non-profit organization such as The Mount Community Centre.
It is a new concept that offers housing for people not in high need but who wish to live in an integrated type of neighbourhood and who have a fondness for the Mount. They may wish to contribute more fully to the social good that is created when housing for more low-income people is provided. Potential buyers may also be impressed by the Mount’s long history of good works. They may appreciate the location on Monaghan Road.
“We need to consider the long-term sustainability of our projects,” says Kylie. He knows of other successful housing life- lease development including one in Lindsay. Usually they are initiated by a non-profit group, often a faith group.
“For me,” says board member John Martyn, “it is profit with a purpose.” Profit with a purpose is a strategy gaining steam globally. It accepts that non-profits seek out profit opportunities to ensure the sustainability of their works.
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