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730 affordable housing units could be built on vacant field near RIM Park, Waterloo city staff say

Waterloo city staff have identified 2025 University Ave. E. as a city-owned property where affordable housing could be built. (Google Maps) Waterloo city staff have identified 2025 University Ave. E. as a city-owned property where affordable housing could be built. (Google Maps)
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Waterloo city staff have identified 25 acres of city-owned land near RIM Park that could be used to build affordable housing.

In a report going to council on Monday, staff lay out a plan to develop around 730 units at 2025 University Ave. E. and ask councillors to greenlight the first step in the process.

The city initially purchased the land in 1999 when building RIM Park. It ultimately was not needed for the project and was rezoned “employment.” It has remained a vacant open field since.

A consultant contracted by the city estimated the property could support 480 stacked townhouses and 250 apartments, for a total of 730 new housing units. Staff say this would represent more than half of Waterloo’s provincial housing target for 2024.

In order to rezone the land, staff recommend seeking a Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) as “the most expedient approach,” as opposed to going through the Region of Waterloo.

Pending further approvals and consultation, staff estimate the city could put a call out for housing development proposals in July and select its preferred option by December.

If the city were to give the land to a developer in exchange for building affordable housing -- as opposed to selling it -- a $4.7 million deficit from the city’s initial purchase could be recovered through a federal Housing Accelerator Fund grant, staff say.

The estimated cost of servicing the land is $7 million, which staff say could also potentially be paid for with Housing Accelerator Fund money.

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