Affordable Living in Small Town Ontario
At 12 units, the residence at 602 Albert Street isn’t big enough to dominate the landscape of Strathroy, Ontario, but it does offer well-designed affordable housing that blends in with the neighbourhood. It also has some nice touches.
A walk-up to a front porch opens to six doors, leading to upstairs, main floor, and downstairs apartments; this design is repeated on the back porch. Affordable at $600 per month, the apartments feature oversize windows, energy-efficient heating and appliances, and large kitchens with a breakfast bar and granite countertops.
“We piggybacked the deal on the granite countertops with another 200-unit development, which allowed us to get them at a lower price,” explained Tim Zavitz, General Manager of Akubilt Construction. “The idea is to build as nice as we can, but keep costs down.”
To help keep the low rents sustainable, the residence also has radiant in-floor heating, LED lighting and extra insulation in its 2 x 8 construction. “This is a high-quality building but it’s the lowest cost per square foot of any projects received under the Request for Proposals issued by the City,” said Neil Watson, development consultant for the City of London, which oversees affordable housing development in Strathroy and other neighbouring towns in Middlesex County.
Located in the north end of the town, the new residence opened in 2015 and is within walking distance of a grocery store, a pharmacy, a park, and schools. Three units are rented by Middlesex Community Living, a local not-for-profit that helps people with cognitive disabilities live independently.
To develop the property, Akubilt first demolished an existing dwelling. The company does construction locally, doing the framing first, and then assembling it onsite. This sped up construction, lowering the costs considerably. Working locally also gave Akubilt opportunities to get good materials for low prices, such as the granite countertops.
The $1.3 million project received combined funding of $720,000 from the federal and provincial governments through the Canada – Ontario Investment in Affordable Housing. The municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc will provide property taxes at the residential tax rate over 25 years. CMHC also provided a seed funding grant.