By Ludwick Chapman 
BELLEVILLE – City council voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon in favour of reducing development charges for a developer who has agreed to build affordable housing in the downtown core in return.
The proposal is for a 103-unit, six-story residential apartment to be built on 135 Station St. near Memorial Park.
The Belleville planning committee gave its approval  for the project in August and now the developer of the project will be getting a 50 per cent reduction on the city’s development charges  for the project. The builder suggested that the lower costs will help run an affordable housing building.
Coun. Mitch Panciuk gave his support for the project by pointing out there’s been a limited amount of rental accommodations over the past years. He said giving the project a reduction in costs is what the city needs.
“There’s not often situations where we can directly contribute to dealing with a situation where we have a crisis in our city and this is one of them and I think that the 50 per cent reduction in development charges for this is a good step for us.” he said.
Coun. Paul Carr shared his concerns that when the developer originally proposed the project, there was no request to reduce development charges.
Carr still voted in favour of the reduction, and he later told QNet News that the vacancy rate of housing in Belleville was “razor thin” and that the city is “always looking for more rental properties.”
The vacancy rate for rental housing in Belleville is 2.2 per cent in 2017, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) down from 4.3 per cent in late 2015. The vacancy rate is the percentage of all available units in a rental property.
At the same time, the city is also experiencing the highest rent increase in Ontario from 2.3 per cent in 2016 to 5 per cent in 2017, according to the CMHC.