1. What is alternative housing?

    Alternative housing is different from traditional housing in terms of size and construction methods. Types of alternative housing include tiny homes, container homes, or modular homes. The cost of an alternative home is more economical than a traditional home. These homes can have one or more bedrooms.

    2. What is a tiny home?

    Tiny houses have all of the main features of a regular-size home but they enable simpler living within a smaller, more efficient space. A tiny home is a private, self-contained house intended for year-round use. It includes a living and dining area, a kitchen, bathroom facilities, and a sleeping area. These are fully-serviced dwellings with water, electricity, and heating. The smallest size they can be is 188 square feet. Tiny homes are typically energy efficient, and must adhere to the Ontario Building Code (Government of Ontario definition). Tiny homes can have one to three bedrooms. Builders must work with the local municipality to determine that minimum size of each unit based on the number of bedrooms.

    3. Are these types of homes the same as “A Better Tent City” at LOT42 in Kitchener?

    The type of housing at LOT42 is temporary and this project is for permanent housing that will be fully serviced.  

    4. What can be built on the Bechtel property?

    According to the City’s Official Plan and Zoning by-law, a maximum of 6 units can be added to the site. The final number actually built will depend on the servicing and specific site details.

    5. Will we lose parking?

    More parking will be added to accommodate the additional units.

    6. What will be done to provide greenspace? The current space is the only shaded greenspace on the property.

    The loss of greenspace has been identified as a concern in the Expression of Interest so proponents will consider how to provide greenspace in their design. The current zoning requires that 30% of the site be landscaped open space – so greenspace will be incorporated into the design. 

    Ensuring that we develop this space in a way that works for the Bechtel community is really important. You will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the design of the buildings, their placement, and greenspace. These opportunities will be offered via the EngageWR Bechtel site.

    7. How do I reserve one of the units?

    It is too early to start a waiting list for those interested in living in the units planned for the Bechtel site. We do not know whether the units will be, for example, dedicated to older adults or a different demographic group. So much will depend on who the developer will be and what size and type of alternative housing they propose to build. 

    We would encourage you to visit the EngageWR Bechtel website to sign up for project updates.

    8. Who will live in these alternative housing units?

    At this point, we do not know who will be living in these units. As mentioned in the previous question, who lives in the units will depend on the non-profit or private developer that is selected to create the alternative housing, and what type of alternative housing they propose to build in this space.

    9. Why add more units when the ones we currently have on site are not well cared for?

    Waterloo Region Housing prides itself on maintaining high property standards. Property inspections are held each year. If you have concerns about the care of your home please bring it to the attention of your Waterloo Region Housing Tenancy Support Specialist.

    10. Why did we not get to decide if this is the right neighbourhood for these units?

    The Region considered all the Waterloo Region Housing properties and determined that the Bechtel site was the best location for this pilot project. As well, zoning already allows the Region to expand the number of units without removing or moving existing buildings. These additional units are part of the City of Cambridge and Region of Waterloo’s commitment to creating new affordable housing. There are nearly 5,000 households on the waiting list for Affordable Housing.

    11. Will this development result in the loss of property values?

    There are many examples of well designed affordable housing projects in the Region of Waterloo and beyond that contribute to neighbourhoods in many positive ways.

    Market value of a property depends on a host of factors including the state of the economy and the individual purchaser’s preferences. Property values are not a consideration in land use planning recommendations partly for this reason.

    12. Will this development result in an increase in crime in my neighbourhood?

    There is no evidence to indicate the presence of affordable housing in a community leads to increased crime. Communities that provide adequate, safe, and affordable housing for all of its residents are safer as a whole.

    This project will be designed to maintain safety and build on the current character of the neighbourhood. The lighting, landscaping, building access, movement of people and the buildings’ design will improve the safety for all residents and neighbours. The plans showing the location of the buildings, parking and landscaping will require review and approval from the City of Cambridge.