Summer 2021 saw the kick-off of development for a new 236-suite apartment complex in Gravenhurst, Ontario. The town’s vacancy rate is only 0.4%, indicating the crucial need for new rental stock, which this single development is increasing by 38%.
SkyDev, the development manager for the property, is one company that is answering the call for new rental stock in Canada.
Gravenhurst is far from alone when it comes to Canadian communities in dire need of new rental housing. Major urban centres aside, secondary and tertiary communities—places like Welland, Tecumseh, and Chatham, to name a few—are also facing significantly short rental supply.
With 600 rental apartments under construction and 2,000 more in the pipeline across eight Canadian communities, SkyDev is not only helping to solve Canada’s housing crisis simply by building new suites, but by integrating sustainability into its entire development process.
Greening the rental housing development process
At each of its developments, SkyDev works to ensure that sustainability is built in from Step 1.
“In pre-planning, our team explores how best to develop sustainably,” said Carrie Lamarche, Vice President, Development, SkyDev.
“Infill opportunities are paramount to smart growth in Canada, and we are a proud proponent of intensification and brownfield redevelopment over sprawl in our selection of development properties.”
Once a site is found, SkyDev reviews the existing site features and determines how to best re-use them, incorporating green space and the protection of sensitive lands into its development plans. Each building design prioritizes energy and water efficiency, responsible stormwater management, and waste reduction.
As tree cutting is unavoidable at some of its developments, SkyDev has pledged to replace all trees impacted by its developments. In Fall 2021, alongside announcing this commitment, the team proactively planted 250 new trees in the Collingwood-Meaford area of Ontario.
Sustainable building features
Right from the planning stages, resource conservation and waste reduction at the property are prioritized, resulting in sustainable features on-site and within the building’s infrastructure. These can include solar rooftop systems, net metering, and on-site energy storage, high-efficiency fixtures and appliances, enhancing insulation, and more.
SkyDev also factors in proximity to sustainable transit when planning its developments. Its communities include electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and large bike storage rooms to encourage bike commuting and recreation.
Many of SkyDev’s developments also feature on-site amenities and retail. Amenity spaces can not only help to promote a sense of familiarity and community among residents, they often have built-in aspects of sustainability. Community gardens and honey-producing rooftop beehives are obvious examples; others, such as outdoor courts, gyms, social and games rooms, outdoor terraces, and adjacent retail shops, indirectly result in vehicle emissions savings due to the fact that they bring entertainment, socialization, fitness, and shopping options right to residents’ doorsteps.
Rental housing: more than just a roof over one’s head
Secure housing is directly correlated to the maintenance of good mental health. In October 2020, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) stated, “Evidence indicates that having a place to call home means a better quality of life and success in education and work. And housing with appropriate supports is shown to improve outcomes from even severe mental health and addictions problems.”
Alongside its burgeoning housing shortage problem, Canada also has a directly-correlated homelessness crisis. In a 2020 report by the Ontario-based Daily Bread Food Bank, 56% of respondents said they could not afford both rent and food.
SkyDev is helping to tackle both issues not only through new standard rental housing development, but through partnering with community organizations on purpose-built housing that directly aids Canada’s vulnerable populations.
New Permanent Supportive Housing
In an outline of the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home program, Permanent Supportive Housing is listed as an important type of housing service to help eradicate the homelessness crisis. SkyDev is making a significant contribution to the development of Permanent Supportive Housing in its hometown of Guelph, Ontario.
In partnership with a local non-profit landlord, Kindle Communities, the Guelph Community Health Centre (CHC), and the land donor Skyline Apartment REIT, SkyDev will be providing free development planning services for a new Permanent Supportive Housing facility.
“We are committed to providing a range of housing in Ontario, and to continuing the advancement of developments that directly address the housing crisis,” said Greg Jones, President, SkyDev.
“This development will provide permanent homes for 32 people who need it most. It will also deliver wrap-around support programs to teach the life skills needed for these individuals to live independently for the rest of their lives.”
Every community is different
Recognizing that each community and development site has its own unique heritage, environmental features, and resident needs and preferences, SkyDev places importance on an ongoing dialogue with city staff and community members to ensure that their developments honour and promote each of those factors. Through these efforts, SkyDev is demonstrating environmental stewardship and social responsibility while increasing Canada’s rental housing supply in the secondary and tertiary communities that need it most.