‘We’re in desperate times’: Kitchener councillors call last-minute housing change a win

Another Kitchener housing project has been amended in the 11th hour.

The proposal from Vive Development will now see their 25-storey tower at 83-87 Weber Street East become 32 storeys. It will also bring the total number of one-to-three bedroom apartments in the building up to 440 from 336.

The plans changed when Vive offered to include 26 affordable units in the project, but on the condition the building is taller. The affordable units will be rented at 80 per cent market rent for two decades.

Considering the housing crisis the province is in, many councillors, like Ward 2 representative Dave Schnider, felt obliged to approve the proposal.

“We’re in desperate times and things are not getting better. They’re getting worse,” said Schnider. “We’re gaining 26 affordable units and other much needed units. I can’t say no.”

However, it’s now the third time Ward 1 Councillor Scott Davey alone, has helped make a last-minute change to a Kitchener housing project without community engagement.

“I want to start by apologizing, especially to our planning staff,” said Davey. “I know it’s no small amount of work to turn on a dime like this, but what I won’t apologize for is what the outcome is.”

Ward 6 Councillor Paul Singh agreed with Davey that $2.7 million sacrificed by Vive over 20 years of units rented at 80 per market rent is worth the flawed process.

“It may not benefit you and I, but it is going to benefit families that need it the most. I think we need to appreciate what the developer is proposing,” said Singh. “If that means a little extra height and more units, I think we have to help them to develop their business case to continue giving back to this community.”

Vive believes that shovels will be in the ground at the site by the end of next year.

The full special council meeting can be viewed here.

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