PATH still set on tiny homes at malt plant site

By Joelle Kovach, Peterborough Examiner, Dec. 13, 2022

The owner of the former United Canadian Malt property says he will not allow 10 tiny homes on his land. But Peterborough Action For Tiny Homes (PATH) activists aren’t giving up on him just yet.

The Examiner did not reach Property owner David McGee for comment.

Photo by Clifford Skarskedt of the Peterborough Examiner

According to a Peterborough This Week column by former city mayor Sylvia Sutherland, McGee emailed PATH last week withdrawing his offer.

Sutherland quoted McGee as stating in his email that he was no longer offering the rent-free deal to PATH. City council voted at a committee meeting to instead scour Peterborough for the best location (rather than settling on the Malt property).

McGee allegedly wrote, “I’m left with the feeling there is zero sense of urgency from the city.” However, “we will continue to support PATH and other like-minded organizations trying to assist those less fortunate.”

‘Not a firm no’

Sheila Nabigon-Howlett of PATH said Monday that McGee had indeed withdrawn the offer.

“But I don’t think it was a firm no,” she said. She added that PATH’s hired planner, Beverly Saunders of EcoVue Consulting, continue to talk with McGee.

PATH is the grassroots group that has 10 small, heated sleeping cabins — tiny homes — already built. Another five remain under construction.

At a committee meeting last week, Coun. Alex Bierk had wanted to allow PATH to put up their tiny homes Jan. 5 to April 30 at the Malt property via a temporary use bylaw.

Bierk also further proposed that the city offer $100,000 for the pilot project. This would include washroom facilities, food and staff from the Elizabeth Fry Society to help those living in the tiny homes.

But the proposal failed in an 8-3 vote, with Coun. Joy Lachica and Coun. Matt Crowley voting along with Bierk.

Some councillors who voted against the proposal said PATH should consult the neighbours first.

What’s next?

So Mayor Jeff Leal moved that city staff work with PATH to scour Peterborough looking at all potential locations — including city-owned ones. Next, they would present a plan to council in February.

That motion carried at the committee meeting and in a final vote at Monday night’s council meeting without a debate.

Prior to the vote, Saunders, PATH’s planner, gave a presentation to council explaining the group wasn’t seeking an exemption to the usual planning processes. Instead, they want to apply for a temporary use permit, which would include a public consultation.

Saunders suggested the application rise to “the top of the queue” so that PATH could set up cabins in time for winter.