Government commits $1.25 million to Bridgewater affordable housing project


  • <p>SOURCE: TOWN OF BRIDGEWATER</p><p>A rendering provided to town council of the proposed residential development at the corner of Maple Street, Prince Street and King Street in Bridgewater.</p>

In the wake of Bridgewater's initial, but not final, endorsement of a proposed residential project on the southwest end of town, other levels of government committed funding toward the development.

Nova Scotia's Department of Infrastructure and Housing recently announced provincial and federal support totalling $1.25 million toward a Lunenburg County company's efforts to build five buildings on a lot where Prince and King streets intersect with Maple Street.

The spending is earmarked for affordable housing and, with this funding, all of the units in the planned two-and-a-half storey buildings will be of that type. In a news release, the province said the promised Bridgewater cash "will create 25 affordable units. Five one-bedroom units will be accessible, and five two-bedroom units will be fully barrier-free."

Craig Schrader leads the company championing the new housing development, expected to be situated on under a hectare of vacant property. Schrader received praise for the successful residential transformation of the former Bridgewater Baptist Church in the same neighbourhood.

In 2016, council authorized land use and planning changes that cleared the way for the old church to house 16 apartment units. Existing zoning at the time prevented the transformation of the former house of worship.

The site was vacated after the congregation relocated to a new facility on the east side of town with the first service in the new Glen Allan Drive church held in April 2015.

Mayor David Mitchell said Schrader's new concept is interesting.

"I know we certainly need more affordable units and I know this developer is held in high regard by his current tenants, so we know it will be a good project," Mitchell said during a recent town council meeting where the matter was discussed.

Civic politicians green-lit "first consideration" of a development agreement with Schrader's firm. A public hearing was scheduled for mid-June before town council is likely to fully endorse the project.

Schrader's multi-unit residential project requires a development agreement with the town because of street frontage rules and unit limitations attached to the land's type of commercial zoning. His company applied for a development agreement in February.

The buildings would have "two units on the first and second floors and one unit on the attic floor," town planner Mackenzie Childs said in a recent written report to council.

The structures would be about 390-square metres in size and comprised of "two-bedroom units, except those on the attic floor which would be one-bedroom units," Childs' report indicated.

The proposed development deal, like similar such contracts, outlines specific requirements that need to be met before permits are issued. Provisions for tree-planting, driveway and walkway access were mentioned.

Two public responses to the development application released by the town showed support for the concept along with concerns about vehicle capacity.

"We are still living in a car culture," reads one comment, suggesting the lot capacity situation will result in vehicles parking along the street.

While another said, "there is a clear lack of affordable and/or available housing in this town which needs to be corrected before we can direct our attention to commercial growth. People need a space to live before they can buy things to fill that space."

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