By Richard Bell
There are at least two other efforts underway along the Shore to build more affordable housing.
Kent Smith and Michael Brine are waiting for a federal subsidy to support their plan for turning the old Jeddore-Lakeville Elementary School on East Jeddore Road into 16 units of affordable housing, 8 ocean-view and 8 garden-view.
“We’ve got a finished plan, we’ve had an Efficiency Nova Scotia energy audit, and we’ve got a construction company lined up,” Smith said. “We’re going to build this. We’re in a queue for the federal affordable housing funds.” Under the federal program, the government sets the maximum rent for the first 15 years. The subsidy is in the form of a $50,000 per unit, making it possible to bring such housing to market.
The units will be roughly 600 square feet, with one bedroom. “If a single person or a couple is in a 2-bedroom unit, Housing Nova Scotia says you’re ‘over housed,’” Smith explained.
Over on West Petpeswick Road, Laurie Cook and her husband Simon Myatt are pursuing another route. With their children off to college, they started thinking about downsizing. While out looking at a listing on West Petpeswick, they stumbled across a for-sale sign for an unlisted 7.5-acre property with frontage on Petpeswick Inlet. They called, and put down a deposit while they worked out their plans.
A long-time community activist, Cook has put up a website whose title describes what they’re aiming for: Oceanside Eco Living. “We’re planning to divide the property into six lots of about an acre each,” Cook said. “We’ve put in a preliminary proposal to the city for feedback, and we’ve got to do perk tests for wells and septic. We’ve already got a concept plan from an experienced landscape architect. The site is designed to save as many of the existing trees as possible.”
Cook has held three public information meetings to share their plans for the property. “We want to do this as a social enterprise; we’re looking at incorporating as a for-profit cooperative that will own the property and the housing. Our goal is to provide some affordable housing while being as sensitive as possible to the environment.”
Cook said that under current HRM zoning, each lot can have two dwellings sharing water and septic. She estimates houses will range in size from 500 to 1100 square feet. The second house on a lot has to be smaller than 650 square feet, and at least 16 feet from the larger house.
“Simon’s family once owned property on West Petpeswick,” Cook said, “so it’s like coming full circle. Simon can remember when half of West Petpeswick was still a dirt road.”
There’s also some interesting history connected to the site. One hundred years ago, there was a nail factory on the site. The traces of an old road run down to the foundation of the factory near the water, back in the days when everything on the Shore moved by boat.