Nelson city council is looking for a new policy around affordable housing after a revised plan for the development at 330 Baker Street – where The Royal is located.
The original plan, which was approved by council in May 2011, included 16 units and opportunities for affordable housing.
According to the proposal put before council on Monday, the new project will include two residential units along with one office unit, a fitness club, a squash club and the main floor unit for The Royal.
“I’m always hopeful that there will be affordable units or affordability built in, but people who own buildings are dealing with certain realities of the financial world so it’s not always possible,” said Councillor Donna Macdonald. “I think in this instance where we’re going from nine low-income units — albeit they weren’t in very good condition — to two units one may be affordable and one is quite large and probably won’t be.”
Macdonald along with other city councillors suggested that this would be a good opportunity for the owner to make contribution to the affordable housing reserve fund.
“I think it’s a reasonable opportunity to ask for a contribution to our affordable housing reserve fund, just in recognition of the loss of those affordable units,” said Macdonald.
Council requested city staff look at the possibility for a policy that could be applied in situations like 330 Baker Street.
“The policy is trying to provide some guidelines to staff so that when developments come forward they can say ‘we have this policy and because of A, B, and C conditions I am going to ask for a contribution to our affordable housing reserve,’” said Macdonald.
“I think staff are doing quite a bit of research on what those conditions should be and what that policy should look like. That we’re not causing undo hardship, but we’re trying to address this ever present problem of lack of affordable housing.”