2012-10-30 at MIDNIGHT
Council hears request to reduce property taxes for affordable housing project
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A local architect has asked city council to lower property taxes in order to turn a vacant Victoria Avenue building into affordable housing suites.
Ahsanul Habib, president of Habib Enterprises, pitched the idea to city council on Monday. In order to reconstruct the building, Habib requested the city either implement a bylaw that equalizes the property taxes rate of multi-residential properties with the rate on single residential properties for a term of 20 years or provide a grand to the same effect as the taxes.
Habib had received approval to go ahead with the project from the District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administrative Board.
He suggested the housing units could be made available for First Nation youth and singles in the area.
“The building hasn’t been used for the past eight years,” Habib told council. “We cannot preserve the building without it being used. It’s located in the south side downtown, which will make it viable. This will bring people into the downtown and at the same time it will become an encouragement to other buildings we have in this area.”
Despite some concerns, councillors voted for administration to look at the proposal.
The federal and provincial governments approved $480.8 million in funding in 2011 affordable housing. Westford Coun. Joe Virdiramo said in order to start the money flowing, council has to do what Habib has requested.
“If we don’t support it the money assigned to it is lost,” Virdiramo said.
The city’s manager of development and planning Mark Smith said there’s a number of ways to accomplish this project but they have to go back and look into it some more.
“What we would have to bring back to council is a menu of choices,” Smith said.
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