Last night, City Council held its first meeting of the new decade. Developers Joe and Dave Ruscio and John Martella amended an earlier apartment proposal for 22 MacDonald Avenue. They own multiple apartment buildings within the Sault.
The new structure presented to Council has 65-units in an eight-story building. It is on the old Collegiate Heights sports field at the corner of MacDonald Ave and Gladstone Ave.
The original proposed apartment building comprised 90-units in a 12-story building. After a few people complained about not meeting the requirement of 30 per cent affordable units, the developers went back to redesign the building.
Affordable housing is an important issue in the Sault. However, the 30 per cent regulation came in during the Rae Days of the early 1990s. The province scrapped the 30 per cent regulation for buildings with over 50 units. The City’s new housing strategy doesn’t include the 30 per cengt requirement. However, the new housing strategy isn’t finalized.
If the MacDonald building included affordable units, they would rent at $800 per month which is below breakeven for the developers. The rent for an average unit will cost between $1600-$1800 including utilities.
Rarely over the past decade has the Sault seen over 50 new units built in a year. The City estimates it will need 4000 more units because of changing demographics. The Sault vacancy rate sits at 5.8 per cent.
The proposed MacDonald site raised concerns within the community. The developers held a public meeting on November 23 to hear the their concerns. At the City Council meeting, four people spoke about their issues with the project. Some concerns were vehicle traffic, reduced home values, construction affecting surrounding homes and buildings, and the new building’s design.
Approximately 3000 vehicles per day drive by 22 MacDonald. That is well below the 8000 vehicles per day the city says can use the road before becoming congested. The developers said their building will only increase traffic by about 300 vehicles per day. When the site was a sports field, over 5000 vehicles per day drove past.
The Council passed the 22 MacDonald apartment project with only one vote against it. The lone dissenter was Ward 2’s Lisa Vezeau-Allen. She wanted some affordable housing units even if it was less than the 30 per cent requirement.