C-K to explore rural housing options

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By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Rural Chatham-Kent may be seeing increased housing development in the countryside.

A motion brought forward by West Kent Coun. Melissa Harrigan was endorsed unanimously by Chatham-Kent council March 25. It’s asking administration to compile a report to prepare a further draft official plan and zoning bylaw amendment, including public consultation, to implement policies permitting additional detached dwellings in rural areas.

Both farm and non-farm properties are to be included. The motion also calls on staff to examine a further division of non-farm properties in rural areas for new residential uses.

“We know in Chatham-Kent we are facing a housing crisis and we also know that we are a very rural community,” Harrigan said in speaking to the motion, acknowledging that staff has done a lot of work on the urban development piece.

The councillor said the motion directs staff to “showcase” the opportunities that may be available and to examine what some other municipalities are doing in that area.

“This motion has come up for me because I’ve had a number of families reach out to me and ask about secondary dwellings specifically in rural communities, largely because they’re looking at farm succession planning or keeping their family members close to home,” Harrigan said, as well as “kids and grandkids wanting to build a house and live in the country with more space.”

However, Harrigan said that she’s also heard from residents that there needs to be a “careful balance,” when it comes to development in rural areas.

According to Bruce McAllister, some draft policy documents will be brought forward at the meeting in June. Following that, council will decide on a public stakeholder strategy.

Both North Kent Coun. Rhonda Jubenville and East Kent Coun. Steve Pinsonneault spoke in favour of the motion.

The report is expected to come back before council in June.

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