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Gander is a growing community of 11,880 with a population increase of 23 per cent since 2001. In recent years, there has been a surge in the demand for housing. Housing is a crisis nationwide, with Gander facing its own particular challenges. Council is exploring ways to meet the increased demand, including changes to regulations that better facilitate development opportunities.

Furthermore, to address Gander's housing supply needs, we introduced "Build Up Gander" as a strategic initiative. Recognizing dynamic socio-economic changes, we are committed to preserving Gander's character while creating an inclusive community that encourages growth.

We acknowledge the delicate balance between housing solutions and preserving neighborhood traditions. Management evaluated areas based on their protective value against community values like open spaces.

In consultation with community members and private / public stakeholders, several ongoing strategies under the banner of “Build Up Gander” have been introduced to address the increased housing demand, while also promoting sustainable development and community well-being.

So how do we get there?

Following a Public Briefing session held on March 30, 2023, the Development Regulations Amendment #5, 2023, was adopted unanimously by Council at the Aug 30, 2023, Regular meeting,

This amendment introduced changes to the Town of Gander Development Regulations 2019-2029 to accommodate “Cluster Developments” in some zones within the Towns Planning Area and Municipal Boundaries, at Council’s discretion.

Cluster development means a development that has two or more buildings on a single property. These buildings can consist of single homes, semi-detached dwellings, row dwellings, apartment buildings, duplexes, town houses, residences or commercial uses. Cluster developments have more efficient site design, preserve open spaces, lower construction costs, and lower maintenance costs in the delivery of services. 

The amendment will allow more flexibility around constructing multiple buildings on a single lot - meeting a growing need for more diverse and affordable housing. This new standard furthers the Town’s goal to create residential neighbourhoods that are inclusive, and supports people of different ages, abilities, and incomes.

Infill developments means the construction of new buildings or the redevelopment of underutilized or vacant land within an existing built-up area. Infill developments can help create more housing options in areas that are already established, which can help reduce urban sprawl and improve walkability.

Previously, proposed infill locations on Bennett Drive, Johnson Crescent, Nungesser Avenue, Magee Road, and Grandy Avenue were identified as aligning with the Town of Gander’s vision of addressing specific housing needs in our town, while considering each site's unique attributes. 

The Committee recommended the following for the five proposed infill sites:

  • High Density 2 zoning with specific buffers (20 m and 5 m, respectively) for Bennett Drive and Johnson Crescent. 
  • Advancing Nungesser Avenue's infill re-zoning, with technical considerations. 
  • Developing a strategy for the land on Magee Road currently zoned as Commercial Local. 
  • Removing Grandy Avenue from the zoning request due to market factors.

We believe these infill locations reflect a thoughtful approach, considering density, proximity to amenities, and community impact. The recommendations result from meticulous analysis and community engagement, aiming to benefit our residents and Gander's growth and prosperity.

Proposed land to re-zone for Infill Developments

As part of the Provincial Government’s continued efforts to support the creation and availability of more affordable housing in Newfoundland and Labrador, applications for the Secondary and Basement Suite Incentive Program are now open.

This program will allow homeowners to access a forgivable loan of 50 per cent of the cost of renovations, up to a maximum of $40,000, to create a new, self-contained secondary or basement suite within their home.

Program Overview

The Secondary and Basement Suite Incentive Program aims to grow the availability of affordable housing options throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. The program will provide funding to help homeowners create a new, self-contained secondary or basement suite within their home that is to be rented at below market rates.

Homeowners who qualify will receive up to 50 per cent of the cost of renovations, up to a maximum of $40,000. The program will provide a rebate in the form of a forgivable loan, which does not need to be repaid if the homeowner follows the terms of the program.

For the loan to be forgiven, the new unit must be located on the same property where the homeowner lives and must be rented out at below market rates, as established by Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation (NLHC), for at least five years.

Who is eligible?

Applicant:

  • Current homeowners who reside in the home as their primary residence
  • Canadian citizens or permanent residents

Property:

  • Must meet health and life-safety standards

Basement Suite:

  • The new unit must be registered (where applicable), self-contained and provide living, sleeping, eating, food preparation and sanitary facilities for the exclusive use of the household occupying the unit
  • Received municipal building permit after January 1, 2024

Renter:

  • Cannot be a sibling or child of the homeowner/applicant, but may be a parent or parents aged 65 or older
  • Must have a household income below $42,000

What do I need to apply?

  • Completed application form
  • Proof of residency in the home to be modified (e.g., driver’s license, utility bill)
  • Proof of home ownership for the home to be modified (deed and survey)
  • Approved Building Permit from your municipality (where applicable)
  • Confirmation of assets or financing in place for the balance of funds required to complete renovations
  • A contractor quote to complete the secondary or basement suite.

What costs are eligible?

  • Architectural and design fees
  • Inspection fees (where applicable)
  • Structural modification
  • Electrical work
  • Fixtures
  • Appliances (50% of actual cost to a maximum of $2,500)
  • Building and trade permit fees
  • Costs to obtain certificates, drawings and specifications directly related to eligible scope of work
  • Materials related to the approved construction
  • Contractor labour (not including work done by Applicant or any member of the Household)
  • HST

What costs are not eligible?

  • Repair of existing rental units
  • Labour costs for work completed by the homeowner
  • Landscaping costs

Robertson Avenue: Request For Proposal

INTRODUCTION

The Town Council of the Town of Gander is pleased to announce the initiation of this Request for Proposal (RFP) as a proactive measure to address the evolving housing needs of our community and promote sustainable growth.

The Council is committed to fostering a vibrant and inclusive environment, recognizing the increasing demand for diverse housing options. In this pursuit, the Council has identified the Robertson Avenue area, characterized by underutilized land, as a prime opportunity to contribute significantly to our community's housing solutions.

COMMUNITY NEEDS AND DEVELOPMENT VISION

Meeting Housing Demand: Gander has experienced a notable surge in demand for diverse housing options, necessitated by changing demographics. To address this demand, the Council is eager to explore proposals that encompass a range of housing models, including cluster developments, apartment buildings, and multiplexes.

Zoning Compliance: Emphasizing adherence to Residential Medium Density zoning for the Robertson Avenue land, the Council seeks proposals that align with established guidelines. This approach ensures the creation of developments that seamlessly integrate into the existing fabric of our community.

Inclusivity and Diversity: The Council is steadfast in its commitment to promoting inclusive, equitable, and diverse housing options. Proposals are encouraged to outline strategies for achieving these goals, such as incorporating affordability and accessibility.

UNDERUTILIZED LAND OPPORTUNITY

The Robertson Avenue area, currently an underutilized resource, holds significant potential to address the community's housing needs responsibly. Through this RFP, the Council invites proposals that leverage this opportunity, fostering development that not only meets housing demands but also enhances the overall fabric of our town.

Benefits and potential for this area include:

Proximity to Retail Core: The Robertson Avenue area's strategic location offers proximity to the retail core, enhancing accessibility to essential services.

Walkability to Services: The development's walkability to various services is a key advantage, contributing to a more connected and convenient living experience.

Integration into Existing Neighborhood: The Council encourages proposals that promote seamless integration into the existing neighborhood, enhancing the overall cohesiveness of the community.

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

In adherence to the Municipalities Act, the Council retains the right to consider social and economic development grounds when evaluating proposals. This flexibility enables us to prioritize projects that contribute not only to housing solutions but also to the broader well-being and growth of our community.

STRIKING THE RIGHT BALANCE

While we are committed to meeting the evolving needs of our community, the Council acknowledges the importance of striking a balance. Development must not come at all costs, but rather, we seek solutions that are tailored to our unique challenges in growth, diversity, and inclusion. The Council encourages proposals that reflect a thoughtful approach, mindful of the delicate equilibrium needed for sustainable and harmonious community development.

The Town Council of the Town of Gander looks forward to innovative proposals that contribute to our vision for a dynamic, inclusive, and sustainable community.

Background:

The Town of Gander is situated in proximity to Newfoundland and Labrador’s northeast coast and has grown to over 11,800 in population in recent years. Prominent industries situated in the Town include transportation, communications, education, public administration, defense, and an impending mining industry. The Town also plays an important regional role, acting as a service hub for the more than 80,000 people situated in 130 communities that lie within a 100km radius of the Town. In recent years there has been a surge in demand for housing, even as recovery continues from the negative impacts of the recent COVID pandemic. Regional economic opportunities have also emerged which could accelerate this recovery.

Current projections suggest that more than 700 new homes could be added over the next 10 year. Council is exploring ways to address this demand within the shifting housing landscape. Specifically, the Town is undertaking a Housing Needs Assessment Update to support these efforts. The original Assessment was conducted in 2015 and since that time, there have been considerable changes in demographic and employment trends. Like other communities across the country, Gander has also experienced considerable shifts in the housing market and in particular, housing affordability.

Re/fact Consulting has been retained by the Town to assist in completing the Update. Using data analysis, growth trends and research, the Update will identify key local housing issues. Insights gathered from stakeholders and the broader public as part of the consultation process will help to augment these findings. An examination of options and opportunities for addressing these challenges in an impactful way will also be undertaken as part of the process.

Some specific areas that the Update will explore include:

• Current and project growth trends as well as the housing requirement this will generate
• The range and type of housing options that are available in the community
• The affordability of housing in relation to local residents needs
• Barriers and impediments to meeting housing needs
• Policies, practices and tools to help overcome identified housing barriers

This work is intended to provide an updated baseline for local housing needs and issues as well as projected housing requirements over the next 10 years. Ultimately, the Update will be used as a foundation to support the efforts of the Town as it develops a comprehensive Housing Action Plan to address housing issues and guide future municipal decisions.

The consultation strategy is intended to provide a multi-faceted way to gather information and facilitate feedback from a range of housing stakeholders and the broader community that can be used to inform the Housing Needs Assessment Update. The purpose of this strategy is to identify emerging housing issues, gaps and priorities; develop opportunities to create more affordable housing; and determine where efforts should be focused to get the best outcomes.

The planned consultation strategy includes:

Community Town Hall Sessions: Two Town Hall sessions will take place during the Needs Stage (Dec. 12, 2023) and Policy Stage of consultations (Jan / Feb 2024, TBA). A presentation with group discussion, targeting community members, stakeholders and general public interested in housing issues, will be facilitated by Re/fact Consulting.

Focus Group Sessions: Smaller group discussions with a cross-section of targeted community stakeholders that have specific perspectives on housing and development, using structured questions and facilitated by the consultant group.

Key Informant Interviews: Individual interviews using guideline questions that target individuals from key entities or organizations with specific insights on housing issues. Informant interviews would also help to facilitate key partnerships, secure resources that address priorities, and determine ways of overcoming barriers to development.

Community Housing Survey: Our on-line survey, which ran through December 2023, until mid-January 2024, was designed to gather information related to housing issues in the community. Community members, various stakeholders and general public interested in housing issues were encouraged to participate - with over 450 individuals and groups offering responses. Here's what they had to say:

Webpage for Project Info: Launched on Nov. 27, 2023, the "Build Up Gander" Housing Needs Assessment Update page will provide ongoing general information about this project including post-project updates, Town Hall presentations, Town Hall sessions, event announcements, and public survey results / outcomes.

Project Mailbox: the buildupgander@gandercanada.com email was established to provide an ongoing mechanism for open ended feedback, subject to the perspectives shared by the public.

Affordable Housing Incentives: Assess, develop and launch a suite of targeted incentives that support housing development to expand the supply of housing that is affordable. Incentives to be examined would include capital grants, interest free loans, tax abatement, tax increment financing, waiver of development fees and land donations.

Housing-based Zoning and Regulatory Reforms: Allow for increased housing density on a single lot including promoting “missing middle” housing forms. Regulatory changes to be considered would include broadening permitted uses, reducing zoning standards, adding density, promoting accessibility, and amending regulatory tools to support housing affordability and permit a broader range of multi-residential housing.

Middle and High-density Housing Tools: Promote and allow for more housing types that serve vulnerable populations, identify pressure points in the local market regarding mid and higher density housing, and address middle and higher density gaps evident in the local market that will help add to the supply of multi-residential units that are better suited to smaller households and those requiring greater affordability.

Innovative Practices in Housing Delivery: Encourage alternative forms of housing construction such as modular housing, manufactured housing, and prefabricated housing. Expanding possible housing types and delivery techniques will help to shorten development timelines, broaden options, and reduce the cost of housing. Work would first focus on a development process review, in order to shorten potential approvals timelines.

Establishing a Municipal Land Bank: Develop a municipal land inventory and associated mechanisms to acquire and utilize public lands suitable for housing development.

Property Utilization: Promote infill developments with increased housing density and a variety of unit types. Realizing this potential has the added benefit of more effectively utilizing and servicing infrastructure that is already in place.

Capacity, Partnership and Education: Establish capacity, partnership and education strategies with not-for-profit housing providers to increase the stock of affordable housing, build additional stakeholder capacity, foster beneficial housing partnerships, and broaden awareness of housing issues among the public.

Housing is a key component of community social and economic well-being. In addition to the need for affordable, supportive, and accessible housing, a lack of available housing has direct impacts on economic development and tourism.

Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) and Choices for Youth have released a new report on housing needs: Pull Together: Addressing Housing Insecurity in Newfoundland and Labrador and Executive Summary.

The information garnered through this work reveals a rapidly deteriorating situation with respect to the availability and affordability of housing. Measures are needed to rapidly stimulate the creation of large amounts of rental housing, ensure adequate income for the population, and increase the availability and diversity of related services in rural areas.

There is a strong desire from municipalities and service providers to work together with other government agencies and foster greater understanding and mutual action. There is likewise a strong imperative for economic and social well-being and a call from those experiencing the impacts of this crisis to address these issues with the urgency they deserve.

KEY FINDINGS:

  • Renter households are much more likely to live in unaffordable housing than their owner counterparts; about one-third of renter households in the communities studied live in unaffordable housing, though in some cases this is as much as 44%.
  • Point-in-time counts from shelters outside the Avalon region in NL show a nearly tenfold increase in usage between 2019 and 2023.
  • All case study communities (which included Gander) reported challenges with both the availability and affordability of housing; these challenges have increased in severity since the onset of the pandemic.
  • Lack of funds for both building and operating housing were cited as barriers to resolving these issues, as well as jurisdictional issues, informational resources, and delays relating to municipal and provincial approval processes.
  • The cost of development was frequently noted as a perceived contributor to insufficient housing supply and the high cost of housing.
  • A lack of housing options for seniors living in their family home is a major issue, especially as the median age in the communities generally studied tracks well above the provincial median age. Many seniors are living in homes in which maintenance and heating are cost-prohibitive and their needs for accessibility are not met. Fixed incomes mean that seniors who do not own their homes are unable to afford increasing rents.

The MNL report is calling on Municipal Governments to:

SHORT-TERM…

  • End single-family home zoning, making, at a minimum, subsidiary suites and townhomes a permitted use in all residential zones
  • Create zoning provisions for the creation of smaller, more dense housing developments for seniors, including lowering minimum lot and dwelling sizes. Where no such provisions exist, create zoning and definitions for apartment zones
  • Prioritize development approvals and waive development fees for affordable housing projects
  • Implement a tax on vacant rental properties
  • Apply the tourism accommodation tax to short-term rental properties
  • Consider offering in-kind contributions of servicing to affordable rental housing projects on surplus municipal land

MEDIUM-TERM…

  • Establish inventories of municipally owned land and underutilized buildings and a transparent process for their distribution for development of rental housing
  • Consider options for pre-emptive rezoning and advance development approvals for land and buildings identified in the inventory to expedite development once the land is awarded
  • Streamline municipal processes to expedite the approval of rental construction projects, especially multi-family housing
  • Create agreements with providers of purpose-built multi-family rental housing to offer rebates of municipal property taxes for an agreed-upon period during which affordability thresholds must be maintained (for example, a certain percentage of units at 80% of median market rent)

LONG-TERM…

  • With Provincial cooperation, introduce inclusionary zoning for multi-unit developments at 10% of units or minimum 1 unit for developments of 10 or fewer units or cash in lieu at the municipality’s discretion; in the case of cash in lieu, all revenues should be reinvested in affordable housing initiatives
  • Replace tax sales with repurposing properties for redevelopment into affordable housing projects where those properties are appropriate for such development; create an evaluation matrix to identify which properties would be suitable for this purpose
  • Create unified inventory and application process for developable surplus provincial and municipal land and buildings with clear and transparent criteria and application process for interested non-profits and developers through the creation of a community land trust

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