Local developer tackles hometown housing crisis | A Place to Call Home
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(Music fades in.)

(Visual: Video fades in. A wide angle shot shows the ocean lapping calmly on the red sand of Summerside, Prince Edward Island. The camera cuts to a shot of a water tower. The city crest for Summerside can be seen on the water tower through the trees surrounding it.)

(Text on screen: Summerside, P.E.I.)

(Visual: A seagull flies towards a small lighthouse in the Summerside harbour area. The camera pushes in towards the main door of the Port of Summerside Corporation building. The building is rose coloured and reads “Summerside” in large letters over the entrance. A close up of a seagull taking off into flight is shown. The video transitions to a shot of the front door of Summerside’s City Hall. The city’s crest, embroidered on a tapestry, is shown hanging the in lobby of the building.)

00:20
We’re located on the “Summerside” of the island. That’s how we got our name many, many years ago.

(Visual: Basil Stewart, the man speaking, appears on camera. He is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside the City Hall Council Chambers.)

(Text on screen: Basil Stewart, Mayor, City of Summerside, P.E.I.)

00:26
It’s a pretty good corner of the word, and pretty nice place to settle and live.

(Visual: A close-up shot of a street sign reads: Water Street, indicating the main commercial street in Summerside’s downtown core. The Farmer’s Market opens shortly, and vendors are arriving to set up shop. A man carefully pushes a number of storage bins stacked on a trolley into the main doors of the Farmer’s Market. Another man pushes a rack of fresh bread through the open glass doors of the market.  The camera slowly moves through the various kiosks as vendors and costumers chat casually.)

00:30
The population of Prince Edward Island has increased tremendously over the last couple of years. Which is certainly a great boost to our city and a great boost to the economy and we’re looking forward to even more.

(Visual: A woman carefully places desserts in the display case of her kiosk. Another woman places a large coffee container on the counter of her café. A pretzel vender hangs a pretzel in a display case. A man unloaded a crate of fresh apple onto the counter of a kiosk. An egg vendor surrounded by cartons of eggs carefully cleans eggshells with a small cloth.)

00:40
So, a lot of the frustration that we see one-to-one with the community is the lack of units and the lack of affordability. So, rental costs have taken quite a jump…

(Visual: Desiree Gallant, the woman speaking, appears on camera. She is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside her office.)

(Text on screen: Desiree Gallant, Housing Officer - Summerside, Province of P.E.I.)

00:51
…and that becomes difficult for one income families or seniors on a fixed income.

(Visual: Basil Stewart, the man speaking, appears on camera. He is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside the City Hall Council Chambers.)

00:56
There’s a lot of demand right now in Summerside and in Prince Edward Island for affordable housing.

(Visual: The sun begins to set in Summerside. The Port of Summerside building is shown. The camera cuts to the sun setting behind the silhouette of a boat moored in the harbour. The small lighthouse is shown with the golden sky in the background.)

(Music fades out and transitions into another piece of music.)

(Visual: A wide angle shot of a building that reads: Arsenault Bros. Construction. The camera cuts to an interior shot of the building. A number of large construction plans are shown rolled up and stored on shelves in an office. A series of business books are shown on a shelf. A close-up shot of a hand using a computer mouse. A man is navigating the “Mortgage Loan Insurance: Affordable Housing” page on the CMHC website. A close-up shot of the man’s face while he examines the information on the computer screen.)  

01:13
So, Arsenault Bros Construction was founded in 1983 by my father and two of his brothers. It’s been headquartered on Prince Edward Island for 37 years now.

(Visual: David Arsenault, the man speaking, appears on camera. He is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside his office.)

(Text on screen: David Arsenault, VP – Property Development, Arsenault Bros. Construction)

 

01:25
Most of my work, most of my days are spent on development projects.

(Visual: The camera pans across the plans for a large housing project called “The Portside”. The camera cuts to a close-up of the plans to words that read: Affordable Housing 70 Unit Complex. The video transitions to a shot of the “Welcome to Summerside” sign that welcomes people as they enter the downtown core of the city.)

01:30
The Summerside project that we’re working on is the first large scale residential development that we’ve done. I think that now, kind of seeing a culture growing in downtown Summerside…

(Visual: David Arsenault, the man speaking, appears on camera. He is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside his office.)

01:42
…I think it’s the perfect time to bring more people in.

(Visual: The camera slowly moves down the street revealing some of the commercial buildings in city, and then cuts to a wide shot of businesses near the port.)

01:44
The last three years has been phenomenal in terms of the interest from developers and property owners in Summerside…

(Visual: Arnold Croken, the man speaking, appears on camera. He is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside the main building of the Port of Summerside Corporation.)

(Text on screen: Arnold Croken, CEO, Summerside Port Corporation)

01:51
…in general, certainly, but also in the downtown core and the waterfront.

(Visual: Basil Stewart, the man speaking, appears on camera. He is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside the City Hall Council Chambers.)

01:55
Contractors and developers see the opportunity and…

(Visual: The camera moves down the main street in Summerside’s downtown core and approaches a large building that is under construction.)

01:59
…that old saying, “if you build it, they will come” and that’s certainly happening all over P.E.I.

(Visual: The camera plan across a sign for Arsenault Bros. Construction with “The Portside” building under construction in the background. The camera cuts to the interior of the structure to reveal one of the floors under construction. A construction worker is shown cutting through concrete with a powerful saw.)

02:04
So, The Portside, it’s a seventy unit all residential development. Two floors of the development will be allocated to the Prince Edward Island Housing Corporation. So, the P.E.I. Housing Corporation places tenants at reduced rent rates…

(Visual: David Arsenault, the man speaking, appears on camera. He is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside his office.)

02:18
…based on the tenants’ income.

(Visual: A wide angle shot tilts downward to reveal the building.)

02:20
It’s really great to have the thirty designated units from the Arsenaults…

(Visual: Desiree Gallant, the woman speaking, appears on camera. She is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside her office.)

02:23
…just in alleviating some of the lack of vacancy that we’re seeing right now.

(Visual: A vendor and costumer chat at the Farmer’s Market. A young man smiles and hands money to a meat vendor at the market. A lineup of customers picks through bins filled with fresh vegetables. A vendor puts items into a shopping bag for a customer.)

02:27
It kind of gives everybody a little bit of something to look forward to so when it is finished they’re in the heart of Summerside, you have access to quite a few amenities and you’re in a new building and it’s going to be beautiful.

(Visual: The camera tilts upward to reveal “The Portside” from an angle that illustrates its close proximity to the water.) 

02:39
We’re smackdab in the middle of downtown Summerside.

(Visual: David Arsenault, the man speaking, appears on camera. He is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside his office.)

02:42
The land was originally owned by the Port Corporation of Summerside.

(Visual: A large sign near the port reads: Summerside Port Corporation Inc. The camera cuts to a shot of the water from the vantage point of “The Portside” building, showcasing its view and proximity to the downtown core.)

02:46
They came to the table with a good size subsidy on the price of the land in support of the affordable housing piece of the project.

(Visual: David Arsenault, the man speaking, appears on camera. He is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside his office.)

02:53
Arnold Croken is the CEO with the Port of Summerside…

(Visual: Wide angle shot of construction workers moving around within the building.)

02:56
…and was very instrumental in getting this project off the ground.

(Visual: Arnold Croken, the man speaking, appears on camera. He is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside the main building of the Port of Summerside Corporation.)

03:00
The big thing with the Arsenault Brothers was it was a local company…

(Visual: A construction worker carries a piece of construction material towards a forklift. A worker drives a hydraulic crane on the construction site. Another worker in a crane moves upward towards one of the higher floors of the building.)

03:03
…has built credibility in the community and beyond. Because of the affordable housing component of this project we negotiated a reduction on the cost for those units for affordable housing.

(Visual: Arnold Croken, the man speaking, appears on camera. He is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside the main building of the Port of Summerside Corporation.)

 

03:17
The partnership that they were able to create with Canada Mortgage and Housing and with the province and with the city…

(Visual: The camera cuts to a panning shot that reveals the Summerside crest hanging in the Council Chambers of City Hall.)

03:22
…were all necessary pieces of this to knit it all together so it could work.

(Visual: Desiree Gallant, the woman speaking, appears on camera. She is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside her office.)

03:26
Creating solutions for what P.E.I. is facing right now does take a lot of different players.

(Visual: A wide angle panning shot of “The Portside” building under construction. A forklift operator drives across the construction site.)

03:32
The amount of people that have come to the table to create The Portside is just fantastic. Everybody working together, which is what we like to see.

(Visual: David Arsenault, the man speaking, appears on camera. He is facing the camera and is being interviewed inside his office.)

03:39
People have been telling me that we’re kind of the start of this big development in Summerside.

(Visual: A sticker on a newspaper box reads: Downtown Summerside, It’s Better by the Water. A sign at the Farmer’s Market says: Local and Organic. A wide angle shot of the Farmer’s Market shows customers chatting and shopping. A wide-angle tracking shot of “The Portside” building is shown. The sun is setting again in Summerside. The harbour creates a silhouette in the pink sky as a seagull flies in the distance. The camera cuts to the small lighthouse while, in the background, the sun is slowly disappearing beyond the horizon. The image slowly fades to white as text and logos appear.)

03:43
When people say that I just say, “no, it’s been going on for five to ten years now and we’re just trying to bring some people in.” Since we’ve started construction there’s just been so much interest in people wanting to live in the location that we’re building in. It’s rewarding and it’s exciting. We’re going to start working on the next one soon. There’s room for more.

(Text on screen: #NationalHousingStrategy, placetocallhome.ca)
(Music fades out)
(Visual: Text, the National Housing Strategy logo, Government of Canada logo, and CMHC logo fade in together. All text and logos fade to white.) 

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February 12, 2020

Local developer tackles hometown housing crisis

Summerside is a city located on the western side of Prince Edward Island and has a year-round appeal.  It’s a popular summer tourist destination. Recent economic growth has made the city an attractive place to live.

As more people settle in the city, meeting the demand for affordable housing has become a struggle. Vacancy rates in Summerside are at historic lows and there is a growing frustration about both the lack of available units, and affordability.

“Rental costs have taken quite a jump,” says Desiree Gallant, housing officer with the Province of Prince Edward Island.  “That becomes difficult for one-income families or seniors on a fixed income.”

David Arsenault is the vice-president of property development at Arsenault Bros. Construction. He’s also leading the charge and tackling this problem head on.

David grew up in Summerside. He went to school down the road. He is part of a younger generation of developers building with purpose. He is also excited that Arsenault Bros.’ first residential project is located in his hometown.

“The Portside” is a 7-storey, multi-residential apartment complex. It’s located in the heart of city and it’s within walking distance of the ocean, local cafes, transit and the market.

“Since we’ve started construction there’s just been so much interest in people wanting to live in the location that we’re building in,” says David. “It’s rewarding and it’s exciting.”

The impact of the project is undeniable. The Portside is adding 70 units to the housing stock in just one project and is anticipated to be complete in the fall of 2020. Compare this to only 70 units added in the last 4 years through multiple projects.  

Keeping the project affordable was a priority. As a result, a significant portion of the units will be available at below-market rates.

“Two floors of the development will be allocated to the Prince Edward Island Housing Corporation, who will place tenants at reduced rent rates, based on the tenants’ income” explains David.

Partnerships were also key to making The Portside a reality. Under the leadership of Arnold Croken, the Port Corporation of Summerside provided the land at a subsidized rate.

“The big thing with the Arsenault Brothers was it was a local company that has built credibility in the community and beyond,” says Arnold Croken, CEO of The Port Corporation. “Because of the affordable housing component of this project we negotiated a reduction on the cost for those units.”

There is an undeniable buzz and excitement about The Portside. Perhaps it’s because it will be the tallest building in the city. It could even be because it was built by one of Summerside’s very own. For David and Arsenault Bros. Construction, it’s just the beginning.

The Portside is an example of multiple levels of government and multiple private enterprises creating affordable housing solutions together in the City of Summerside, PEI. The Portside received a low-cost loan through the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, a National Housing Strategy initiative.

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