The Town of Strathmore and Mayor Pat Fule held another Coffee with the Mayor session, which is an event meant to offer community members the chance to ask questions and speak about their concerns with the Mayor and council in a more casual, relaxed setting.
Among several topics discussed, Fule said affordable living was one of the biggest, as he spoke about what the Town is doing to try to address rising rent prices and create more affordable housing. The most obvious way to address a housing issue is to create more housing, and Fule said the Town has been working hard on its policies to make Strathmore an attractive place for developers to build.
"Our planning department has become quite well known for its red tape reduction and being very efficient in getting permits and things the developers need to them in a timely manner so they can get on with their work, so we're hoping that we can attract more developers and builders for multi-unit housing, for rentals," he said.
Other policy changes included work done over the last 7-8 years regarding zoning in the downtown area, which Fule explained allows for building more multi-unit housing downtown. This has more benefits than the main one of creating affordable housing, as Fule said it should be great for our economy too.
"That will also help support the downtown businesses. So one of the ways you rejuvenate or support a downtown area for a small town is that you have more people living in the downtown area and that's going to support the retail that's there."
Fule also referenced a potential new living complex on Centennial Ave. While this was initially turned down, Fule is optimistic something will get done and the developers are coming back in July for another meeting. Potential new developments would potentially take years to develop though, so Fule is also hoping to introduce garage/ garden suites as a quicker way to introduce more affordable living units to Strathmore. Fule added garden suites not only offer more living options, but also offer financial benefits to the people renting them out as well.
Another issue brought up was the property tax ratio, as Fule said it's currently skewed a bit heavier towards the residential side rather than non-residential/commercial taxes.
"We're trying to improve that a bit, but it's a fine balance, you want to make sure that you don't hit businesses too hard because we don't want to hurt them as far as the local economy, but we do need to get a little closer balanced."
Also discussed was snow removal, and Fule said a full report will be coming to council in June, so more details will be available then.
As for the event as a whole, Fule enjoys the opportunity to speak with community members about what matters to them, and believes this is also a good way for the community to have their concerns heard.
"I think it's a good way for people in Strathmore to get some of their questions answered. They can watch online or they can come in person and be a part of the audience and ask some questions there too. It's part of our philosophy to be really open."
The next planned Coffee with the Mayor event is November 7, 2023, which will be a Citizen Budget Café.
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