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'Start thinking in innovative ways': Cambridge councillor pushing for new idea to tackle affordable housing crisis


A Cambridge city councillor is calling for a new way to tackle the local affordable housing crisis.

Ward 7 councillor Scott Hamilton plans to bring a motion to city council on Dec. 19 to ask staff to look at the possibility of building affordable housing over above-ground city parking lots.

"You save the parking spaces underneath, but you provide that much needed housing for the community while also finding a way to get more people living downtown," said Coun. Hamilton.

Hamilton citing that there are around 8,000 people on a wait list for affordable homes in Waterloo Region, with 1,500 families in Cambridge alone looking for housing.

He also plans to ask the question of whether the project would fall under the Affordable Housing Plan to develop 500 new homes per year.

His proposal to council stems from the ongoing shortage of affordable housing in the city.

"This crisis is not new, it's been going on for a very long time and so if we want to try and get ourselves out of these old long-standing problems, we have to start thinking in new innovative and exciting ways," said Coun. Hamilton.

He adds that it’s about time to start utilizing space that is often overlooked.

"So it's really taking an urban core area that's completely underutilized [and] making it much more useful," said Coun. Hamilton.

The message is echoed by Executive Director of the Cambridge Shelter Corporation Wayne Paddick.

“I think it’s a neat idea as we seem to be running out of land to build on,” said Paddick in an email statement to CTV News. “Building upwards over existing space would open new doors for housing, but it means city council getting in on the housing game.”

While there is already housing over above-ground parking spaces, this initiative would be the first to use existing parking lots.

"There are lots of these examples in our community already, so I don't think the safety of the structure is of any concern,” said Coun. Hamilton. “Out of all the lots in the downtown cores of Cambridge, there will be some viable candidates."

The idea has sparked mixed reactions from the community.

"If we run out of land, you only can go up or down, and they're going more so up," said Cambridge resident Bruce Hatch.

"I just don't think it's going to be working out so well, one thing for the noise…cars coming in and out…fumes," said Cambridge resident Kathy Pharoah.

Hamilton hopes his proposal will turn over a new leaf in how both Cambridge and other municipalities tackle housing.

"I'm hoping this can really catalyze this type of affordable housing to be used in the downtown cores of cities," said Coun. Hamilton.

“We support any affordable housing options in the city and region,” said Paddick . “We have so many participants who are ready for they forever home we simply don't have the available stock. We look forward to council's decision and hope that the outcome is positive for this innovate idea on city owned land.” Top Stories


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