Brent Reaney
Mark Rendell

Northlands Nears A Happy Ending

As the extensive construction project comes to an end, the CMHC looks set to start granting mortgages again, while the monthly levy comes in lower than expected.

After three years of construction, City water is finally flowing through pipes under the streets of Northlands, and the trailer park’s residents will once again be able to apply for mortgages. Things are looking much better than the near-catastrophic state of affairs a few years ago

“Of course, standard criteria apply and individuals are assessed on the regular criteria. But there’ll no longer be a blanket denial,” explained Kerry Penney, the City’s Director of Legal Services, during a special Municipal Services Committee meeting held yesterday to discuss the final phase of the Northlands project.

In 2010, the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation ceased offering mortgages for the aging trailers, largely due to rotting infrastructure. This move, along with years of often contentious discussion between city council, admin and the Northlands condo corporation, prompted a major infrastructure overhaul that began in 2013. The project — executed by RTL Construction and City workers, and paid for upfront by the City, which will recoup the cost over the next 25 years through a Local Improvement Charge (LIC) levied from Northlands residents  — is mostly complete, and CMHC will officially lift the mortgage freeze once the City passes a levy bylaw, expected to happen in December or early January.

The other big news from yesterday’s meeting is that residents will be paying significantly less per month than expected: $297 a month for the levy, as opposed to the predicted $358. This is mostly thanks to a better interest rate secured by the City on the $15.8 million loan they used to finance the project.

Show your work: how the levy was calculated. A 3.3 percent interest rate, rather than the expected 5 percent, lowered the monthly sum

Residents might even see their overall payments decrease, as “the condo fees themselves will drop substantially at the end of this process,” said Lee Sacrey, the condo board’s accountant.

Mostly good news

Not every aspect of the project, however, went off without a hitch. The requirement for more pipeline than expected and excavating tricky patches of permafrost drove up costs, meaning a $200,000 plan to chip-seal Northlands’ roads had to be postponed. Because the City now owns the roads, the cost of finishing them with asphalt will now have to be added to the capital budget.

That said, Chris Greencorn, the City’s Director of Public Works and Engineering, was positive about how close they managed to stick to the budget: “In a project of this nature it would have been hard to estimate those any closer than we did, so we’re fairly happy with the way costs rolled out for the project.”

“It is amazing to see it nearing conclusion,” said Mayor Mark Heyck, who seemed thrilled that this project, decades in the making, was finally coming to a close. “I know that the residents of Northlands will be able to rest much easier as a result of this work concluding in the very near future.”