OPINION: Strike when housing is hot

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By Nick Seebruch
OPINION: Strike when housing is hot

In an exclusive report this week, Seaway News shared the news that the Cornwall housing market was on fire, with the average home price in August at over $314,000, up by 34.3 per cent from August 2019.

Reasons for this are a low supply of housing stock in the area, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic is pushing people to leave big cities, like Toronto and move somewhere less crowded, and more affordable.

Pandemic or not, I think Cornwall is going to have a big year in 2021 and there are so many assets that will help set the city up for success.

The demand for homes in Cornwall by people seeking to move here is a testament to what Cornwall has to offer professionals and young families and how that has been marketed by the city.

There are clearly opportunities in this city for developers who want to rise to the occasion and meet the demand of those seeking to own a home in Cornwall.

Given the lack of housing supply in Cornwall, perhaps the city should look at lowering development chargers to help encourage construction, as well as offering other grants to contractors to get more homes built.

There are also opportunities for the city to be made even more attractive to those from places like Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto. Specifically, I’ve been told that a lot of the newcomers to Cornwall are interested in remote work and we as a city should pursue initiatives that facilitate that.

The final thing to me that this hot housing market to me highlights is the need for Cornwall to use the land in this city effectively, and to not forget the need for affordable housing.

There is not a lot of available land in Cornwall, especially when compared to our neighbours in the United Counties. We can’t afford to have land lie empty and wasted, especially with housing prices skyrocketing month after month, becoming more and more out of the reach of those who cannot afford those high prices.

What immediately comes to mind as a piece of land that is in desperate need of development is the empty lot right in the middle of our downtown at the corner of Pitt and Second streets.

For many years, that plot of land has been empty, with just green wood boards outlining the perimeter. Not only is it a waste of prime real-estate, it is a blight in the downtown and takes away from everything around it.

To be clear, I am not saying that the land owner is any happier with the current state of things than anyone else. I always have had the philosophy that everyone is probably trying the best they can. I’m sure, that the owner of this land wants to see it developed and add another jewel to our downtown. I am also not the only one who thinks that it is beyond time for something to be done.

My opinion is that this land should either be turned back into green space, which is what it was before that pit was opened up or better yet, affordable housing.

If one factor driving up Cornwall’s housing market are those looking to leave the big cities. I don’t think those leaving big cities for small town life would be interested in living in and raising a family in a downtown condo. People who would benefit from living in the downtown would be those who need affordable housing.

This site is near all sorts of amenities, and not far from the Agapè Centre food bank, leaving no real need for anyone living at the site to own a car.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of adversity in a lot of different ways, but in at least one way, it has created an advantage for Cornwall, an advantage we can’t afford to waste.

What do you think residents of the hot Cornwall housing market? Email me a Letter to the Editor to nseebruch@seawaynews.media

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