CORNWALL – The contract for the designer of the new 17-unit expansion to the Morris Glen housing development in Morrisburg was approved by Cornwall City Council in May.
The agreement with Ottawa-based +VG Architects (The Ventin Group) for a net cost of $287,166.72 will cover the design, site plan, and oversee construction of the new low-cost, geared to income, rental housing expansion announced last fall.
In November 2022, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark announced the first phase of a two-phase plan to expand social housing in South Dundas was funded at about $1.74 million.
The planned development is expected to cost $4.7 million, with the balance to be financed by the City of Cornwall.
+VG Architects was the preferred bidder out of three contractors, despite being the middle of the three bidders. Instead of awarding the contract to the lowest bidder, those who sought the contract were scored based on criteria for the contract. Bids by Arcadis IBI Group and Architecture 49 were also evaluated. Five other firms submitted bids but did not meet the minimum scoring required to move further in the process, and in one case a bid was deemed not compliant with the tender process.
Cornwall councillor Syd Gardner lamented that by not going with the lowest bid, it would scare away future bidders for city contracts.
Councillor Fred Ngoundjo asked why the city is building housing in Morrisburg, which was explained that social housing is managed and operated by the city under a shared services agreement with SDG Counties. Further clarification was given as to who can apply to live in the Morris Glen expansion once completed – stating that anyone can apply for the units and there are no geographic residency restrictions.
Councillor Sarah Good was concerned about how the financing of the city’s portion – approximately $3 million – would be accomplished. Staff replied that the longest possible loan that is available for the property would used.
When it was announced last year, the first phase includes 17 two-bedroom rental units, 12 of which will be geared-to-income housing. No time line for construction to begin was given. Cornwall is currently constructing two large-scale housing projects. The average wait time for families seeking social housing is over 18 months. For some categories, the wait list is up to four years. Rental prices have skyrocketed in South Dundas with the average price for rentals doubling in the last five years.