I have been hearing from my neighbours a lot about a new development proposed for Hart Road and I know there are concerns about it. I wanted to share my thoughts on this project.
Ward 3 is rich in cultural diversity, and my primary concern as a candidate for Ward 3 city councillor is to be first and foremost an advocate for all voices in our neighbourhoods, regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
It is important to note that rezoning applications are market driven. If a developer wants to purchase a particular parcel of land that meets their needs, we do not have the ability to stop them simply because we do not want a project in our neighbourhood.
It is also important to mention that there is very little evidence to suggest affordable housing projects negatively impact property values. The global and local economic conditions have a much greater influence on the price of your home. I am, however, open to having a conversation with anyone and seeing evidence that supports an impact to property values.
As Government Relations Manager for the Saskatoon & Region Home Builders’ Association, I have seen the rezoning process play out in our city many times, and the consequence of creating barriers for developers is always an increase in the cost of our homes. I feel very fortunate to live in a city like Saskatoon where homes are affordable compared to wages. But we need to continue working hard to keep it that way.
Housing is an ecosystem, and different types of housing can be placed on a continuum, from emergency shelters on one end, to market housing for purchase on the other. Any blockage at one point creates a knock-on effect. If we prevent affordable housing projects from moving forward, we increase the burden on our emergency shelters and transitional housing.
We also prevent people from building equity and moving up into market rental and market homeownership. A lack of buyers for market homeownership, i.e. a lack of demand, is a large contributing cause of housing market and property value decline.
This project will serve an important role in our community for my neighbours regardless of their ethnicity. Applicants are evaluated by Camponi primarily on their level of urgency, whether they have children, if they are experiencing an emergency situation, such as an abusive household, their references, and their ability to pay rent through ongoing employment.
However, I have many concerns about the Camponi development, just like my neighbours, and I would personally have a tough time supporting the project without having some of our concerns addressed first.
My primary concern is how quickly this development has been pushed through the process and the lack of consultation with my neighbours. Not all that will be impacted were notified by the city. I am concerned that the impending election has created an incentive to move quickly and has not allowed a fulsome and transparent conversation about the impact of this development.
People are concerned this development will lead to an increase in crime in the area. Buildings themselves don’t increase crime. This project addresses the need for a safe and stable home, which is a critical part of crime reduction. But it falls on the city, our organizations, and our residents to collectively support initiatives that address the root causes of crime, including homelessness, mental health and addictions. As city councillor, I will work hard on reducing those factors in our community.
I would also like to see Camponi and similar organizations investigate other ownership models, rather than concentrate exclusively on subsidized rentals. Some units for purchase, or rent-to-own, would contribute to a diverse community fabric that is so critical to healthy communities.
Rezoning is often contentious, but it does not have to be. I believe we can have honest conversations about making our community a better and more inclusive place for everyone. And I am ready to have those conversations with my neighbours because I’m on team Ward 3.
Learn more about the development project at camponi.ca