Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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Woolwich eyes affordable housing project for Kiwanis House

The former Kiwanis House property in Elmira will be used to provide affordable housing under a township proposal aired last week.

Woolwich is looking to declare as surplus the land at 28 South St. W. If that goes through, the plan is to request proposals to develop housing on the site at the corner of Snyder Avenue, near the Woolwich Memorial Centre.

The site currently contains an unoccupied detached house, an accessory shed, a community garden and approximately half of an existing parking lot (28 spaces) adjacent to Lions Hall.

“The township will consider a range of options in the RFP (request for proposals) including selling the subject lands with the commitment to construct and maintain the lands for affordable housing or retain ownership of the subject lands but have the successful proponent construct and manage the affordable housing project,” said planner John Scarfone in a report prepared for a public meeting December 7.

Along with two letters of support for affordable housing, councillors heard from two other residents concerned about traffic issues in the neighbourhood.

South Street resident Marc McInerney, who addressed councillors in the online meeting, said repurposing the site makes sense, but requested attention be paid to the impact of increased traffic. He noted volumes are already picking up at the WMC and a new multi-unit residential building is slated for the nearby former township pool property at the corner of Ernst Street.

“I’m concerned about parking and traffic, not just for the Kiwanis House,” he said, pointing to potential loss of on-street parking and the need for traffic-calming measures.

Growing traffic issues in Elmira were addressed by resident Judy Furlong in a written submission.

“Perhaps before creating the new subdivision on Barnswallow and increasing density in the core, we should address the traffic flow in and out of town, as well as around the downtown core,” she wrote.

Those concerns were echoed by Coun. Patrick Merlihan, who welcomed the affordable housing plan as a solution to longstanding talks about the future of the vacant Kiwanis House.

Coun. Scott McMillan added there should be ample parking at the WMC to compensate for the loss of spaces adjacent to Lions Hall.

Deanne Friess, the township’s director of development services, said the final configuration of the parking spaces and the property itself will depend on the housing plan that is chosen, should the project go ahead.

Last week’s discussion was just the first public meeting required to declare the land surplus, with a staff report coming back to council at a later date.

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