At a meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2023, Kingston City Council will vote on a motion to appoint one of its members to the Board of Directors for the newly formed Limestone City Co-Operative Housing, with Meadowbrook-Strathcona Councillor Jeff McLaren emerging as the preferred candidate. As part of a new motion moved by Mayor Bryan Paterson, councillors are being asked to support the organization by appointing a municipal representative to its board of directors upon its incorporation.
According to the motion, Limestone City Co-operative Housing is a new not-for-profit organization that aims to provide housing to residents on a co-operative basis, and is part of Council’s efforts to address the shortage of affordable housing units in Kingston, while giving the City an opportunity to partner with a third-party not-for-profit organization to increase the overall supply of housing in the Kingston region.
The motion indicates that “federal and provincial funds are abundant for non-profit housing starts,” with partnerships between the City and non-profits providing greater access to federal and provincial funding programs. On Tuesday night, councillors will be asked to approve McLaren as the first municipal representative to the organization’s board of directors. If the motion passes, McLaren would serve on the board for the duration of his council term.
In a news release from Limestone City Co-operative Housing sent out by McLaren on Wednesday, Mar. 15, 2023, the Councillor addressed the benefits of co-operative housing.
“In addition to increased funding availability, a mixture of socio-economic groups within the same area will build a shared living experience and understanding… Since a portion of these units will be available at market rates, the costs of maintaining housing expenses at below market rates can be mitigated,” he stated.
By offering select units at market rates, the organization will be able to provide additional units through a rent-geared-to-income model. “This means that affordable housing can be made secure as well as sustainable,” added McLaren.
Offering housing units through a co-operative provides an “internal safety net” for tenants, McLaren said. “For example, if someone loses their job, they can move to a rent-geared-to-income model until they find [alternative] employment.”
“With Council putting me on the board, a partnership between the municipality and a community organization can be formed that can unlock provincial and federal seed funding which would not otherwise be available,” he noted.
For his part, Mayor Paterson offered his reasoning behind putting forward McLaren’s name for the position.
“Councillor McLaren has been very involved in the planning and organizing of the new Limestone City Cooperative Housing Inc, and for that reason I’m happy to nominate him as Council’s representative to the board of this new organization. We need to advance a variety of different housing solutions in Kingston, and a new co-operative housing project will be an excellent new housing option in our community,” Paterson said in an email to Kingstonist.
At this stage, Limestone City Co-Operative Housing is still in its infancy, and the appointment of a city councillor to the organization’s board of directors is a key first step for the not-for-profit.
Tuesday night’s Kingston City Council meeting is set for 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall. The meeting will be open to the public and available to stream live on the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.
With files from Tori Stafford.