Holcro Non Profit Housing Corporation
Coté Terrace started as the vision, the dream, of a few with the perseverance to do the work necessary to make the dream become a reality. Through the years since then many people have served on the Board of Directors to ensure Coté Terrace continues to support the vision and work of those founding members. Coté Terrace has continued to evolve as an especially important part of our community and as a positive example of how affordable independent living for seniors can be provided. Regrettably as time passes memories fade and history slowly ebbs away. Our intent, our hope with this section of our web site is to recognize how a dream became reality and how the reality continues to evolve.
Father David Coté (1942-2005)
Father David Coté served as the pastor at Holy Cross Church in Georgetown from September 1980 to June 1991. During his tenure as pastor Father Dave came to see the need for affordable rental housing for seniors in his congregation and in the whole of the community. With his vision and under his leadership along with other community leaders, Holcro Non-profit Housing Corporation became a reality when the ‘Letters Patent’ were completed creating the corporation November 3, 1989. Construction started soon after but regrettably, the rental housing project that came to be named Coté Terrace in recognition of the work of Father Dave, was not ready for occupancy until 1992, a few months after his transfer to another parish.
While no longer the parish priest, Father Dave maintained a close relationship with the facility bearing his name, its residents and the parishioners be had come to know over the years he served at Holy Cross Church. He helped to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the opening of Coté Terrace with the planting of a tree on the grounds in 2002.
The community that had benefitted so much from his vision learned of his passing from his obituary that read in part “A greatly loved priest and faithful shepherd of souls, Father Dave died at St. Mary's Hospital, Kitchener on Saturday, January 29, 2005.”
At the young age of 63, Father Dave was gone but his legacy in Coté Terrace lives on.
Initially driven by Father Dave and members of Holy Cross Church, the project became a community project with several community members involved in the planning and development. With a mix of affordable market rent and rent geared to income for seniors, Coté Terrace was the first building of its kind in Halton Hills (Georgetown). By providing a mix of rental housing, every senior could potentially enjoy affordable independent living at Coté Terrace. Geared to income housing for seniors was already provided at Kin Court, Sargent Court and John Armstrong Terrace with a combined 150 units that were built prior to Coté Terrace. But with access limited to only those seniors eligible for assistance, these facilities did not offer the potential for the economic diversity of seniors that came with Coté Terrace.
The founders of the project were guided by four objectives or principles.
Affordable seniors housing is one of the critical building blocks that allow its occupants to improve the quality of their lives.
Tenancy is open to all seniors, subject to eligibility based on criteria set by the government, a history of financial responsibility, and availability of units.
Input from tenants into decisions affecting their lives is an important consideration in the board's decision-making process.
Tenants are treated equally despite different levels of income. In as many ways as possible the same rules apply to rent-geared-to-income households as to any market-rent households who might occupy the project and the same opportunities are available to all.
While they proved to be up to the task, the group of community members that undertook taking the project from a vision to reality faced many hurdles and challenges.
In the early years, it was a learning experience for Board members as they navigated government subsidies, government approvals and permit processes, selecting and working with an architect, project management, contractors and the host of issues associated with a project of this scale.
Creating a facility for seniors with apartments that accommodate their potential need for physical assistive devices such as walkers, wheelchairs and ‘scooters’ made the design much more than just another apartment building. While they are more common and, in some cases, a required feature today, items such as handrails along the hallways, accessibility door openers and washrooms designed to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs were part of the vision of the founders of Coté Terrace.
Then, as construction neared completion, the challenges shifted to selecting and working with management companies, ensuring all requirements for non-profit housing were met, understanding and creating reserve funds, dealing with maintenance schedules, and then dealing with tenant issues and waiting lists.
When there should have been ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ issues like cleaning the parking garage and re-caulking the windows - an unexpected problem on a new building, as well as substandard pipes that had pin hole leaks and drywall that had problems all adding to the challenges for the Board. It also came to light that unexpected sewer back ups were due to an insufficient slope on the municipality’s main sewer line and that was an ongoing problem until Main Street was reconstructed. But with their perseverance and dedication the challenges were resolved, and Coté Terrace became a wonderfully comfortable modern home for many seniors in our community.
More About Non-Profit Housing
Timeline: A History of Social Housing in Ontario, from Sustainable Housing Asset Resource Exchange (SHARE)
History of Non-Profit Housing in Ontario, from Ontario Non Profit Housing Association (ONPHA)