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Residents still unhappy with 2nd affordable housing proposal in downtown Brockville

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A proposed affordable housing unit in downtown Brockville was met with more public scrutiny last week, despite a renewed proposal by the developer.

In September, Mirabel Consulting, an Ottawa-based firm, brought forward a plan for an 18-room boarding house at 86 John Street.

The site used to be a locally-owned fur store, before closing in 2019. Five years later, the building finds itself in the middle of heated debate over affordable housing.

Some residents in the area strongly advocated against it and had a variety of concerns, claiming it would contribute to an increase in the neighbourhood’s gentrification.

Mirabel was sent back to the drawing board by the city and came back with a new proposal last week. The renewed plans for the property detail a 15-room "maisonette dwelling."

Under the Ontario Building Code Legislation, a maisonette dwelling is a home with a maximum of 16 rooms divided into 6 different units. The firm maintains that they are trying to end the stigma surrounding affordable housing.

"We’re really proud of this second proposal,” said Andrew Hamilton, a developer with Mirabel Consulting. "We believe that the mixture of traditional and non-traditional living, within this maisonette dwelling proposal, does meet the needs of this community in terms of housing."

But many residents remain unsatisfied with the renewed proposal.

David Duc owns a business just a block away and continues to voice his concerns.

"We and several other business people, we’re restricted to how we configured our businesses, to conform to the existing bylaws," he said. "If this zoning amendment was to be approved, it would set a terrible precedent for any future developments in the downtown core."

Brockville's city council will review the proposed changes and submit their recommendations to the planning and development committee.

Council is scheduled to meet again on March 5, making that the next possible date for both sides to come together again.

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