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Grey County gives green light to Meaford attainable housing project

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A development in Meaford aimed at providing housing for people who live and work in the the community has received the green light from both Meaford and Grey County.

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Grey County council approved a revised draft plan of subdivision Thursday for the 201-unit Loon Call attainable housing project on on Highway 26, on the western edge of the town of Meaford . The project, on what is known by some as the former Kennedy farm, was cut from 249 units after the developers consulted neighbouring property owners and others.

Meaford Mayor Barb Clumpus said on Friday they received notice that there were no more appeals of the plan and the developers are now free to get started on the project.

“It is a wonderful project and we are very, very happy with it,” said Clumpus. “It will be great for families getting into home ownership and creating that kind of community we have been striving for. It is a priority for us to attract folks to come and settle and work in this area.”

Clumpus also gave kudos to the developers for the way they worked with the town and residents to address concerns. Lots were modified and enlarged where they abut already established properties on Algonquin Drive, while a children’s parkette and other greenspace was added. The number of single-detached dwellings increased from 31 to 50 while semi-detached units were increased from 12 to 32, but the number of townhouses planned was reduced from 206 to 119.

Thursday’s Grey County council meeting included a delegation about the development by LC Development Group chief executive officer Suresh Singh and List Planning CEO Bob List.

Singh said the development aims to provide attainable housing to those who plan to be a part of the community long-term, many of whom are being priced out of the local home-buying market as prices rise. Last month in Grey-Bruce, the average home sold for over $646,000, according to the Realtors Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound.

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The Meaford development will include 1,100-square-foot townhomes starting at $299,900. With larger townhomes also on site, overall they are expected to average in the $350,000 to $360,000 range. Single-detached units start in the area of $389,000.

Singh said the company has done work across Canada. They started in 1996, but their focus on the type of housing planned for Meaford started about a dozen years ago in Jasper National Park. They have since done “hundreds and hundreds” of attainable ownership homes in Bracebridge and Gravenhurst.

The Meaford development is the first time in 10 years that they have moved away from the District of Muskoka. They are planning for another project in Markdale.

Singh said starting the project as soon as possible is key for them, as costs, including for materials, is rising.

In the past they have been able to focus their price points $75,000 to $200,000 lower than comparable homes. He said they keep costs down by building quickly and efficiently using core trades that are familiar with their projects. They also use many local trades on their jobs, he added.

They also keep their profit margins lower, meaning they don’t make as much money as other developers do, and they also do everything they can to prevent people from buying their homes to flip them.

“We focus so strongly on the people who live and work in the broader communities we are going to develop in,” Singh said. “But we know that is going to change with the way the housing market is.”

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He said they check addresses and ask buyers where they work in an attempt to identify as many “triggers” as possible to “protect what we are doing from the very broad market and the risk of people coming in and buying them and flipping them.”

Singh admitted there is a lot of disbelief in the community in what they do, which can be challenging, and that is why they came before county council.

“That is part of being successful in what we are doing, is that council believes in us and staff believe in us,” Singh said. “Because then the people who live and work in these communities are going to believe in us and then we will be able to deliver what we are committed to doing.”

Singh said they planned to launch “right away” with the county and town approvals in place.

Singh said they are also looking to work with local governments, agencies and organizations to identify those people with local ties who want to buy homes so when they launch their projects they are the first ones permitted to buy.

“Like every developer, regardless of attainability, we start with our very lowest prices on the day we open,” he said.

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