Government funding paves way for Sarnia affordable housing project



A senior government funding announcement Friday addressed the increasingly critical need for affordable housing for Sarnia-Lambton seniors.

The federal and provincial governments are providing $1.3 million to create 24 new affordable rental housing units at 993 Maxwell Street.

A three-storey addition to Maxwell Park Place, which will be operated by the County of Lambton, is expected to welcome residents by the end of the year.

The county will be contributing $1.7 million from its housing reserve fund.

Warden Kevin Marriott said the three-way partnership between the county, province and federal government made the project possible.

“The ability of this project to go from application stage to possibly being available for living in just one year is absolutely amazing and unheard of before — it’s analogous to the building of the pyramids.”

Marriott added that the need for affordable housing for seniors and others has been steadily growing, but has become even more alarming over the past year.

“This announcement of 24 units couldn’t be more timely for those in need. The combination of job losses due to the pandemic as well as rising home prices have created the perfect storm to increase our homeless population to levels we’ve never seen before.”

Lambton County Warden Kevin Marriott, Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey , London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos, and Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley take part in a Zoom meeting for an announcement of affordable housing. 5 March 2021.

Lambton County Warden Kevin Marriott, Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey , London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos, and Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley take part in a Zoom meeting for an announcement of affordable housing. 5 March 2021.

The new development will provide 24 one-bedroom apartments for seniors and six will be fully accessible. The addition will be modular in design and assembled using prefabricated units.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said he’s seeing more opportunity for affordable housing as a consequence of the pandemic.

“The modular concept is popping up everywhere, where you can go to ground and be up and running within a year or so. The other opportunity is the fact that we’ve had a number of hotels that have closed. There is tremendous opportunity in the hotel sector to move in and provide accommodation to people in need, and do it very quickly,” said Bradley. “I hear it all the time, ‘well you’ve got lots of apartments and you’ve got lots of apartments to rent,’ but they’re not the units you want people to live in with dignity and the capacity to have a decent life.”

Funding for the project is being delivered through the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative, a joint initiative by the governments of Canada and Ontario.