The County of Haliburton and City of Kawartha Lakes are planning to bring 5,500 additional rental housing units to the area over the next 20 years. Lisa Oliveira of the Housing Services.

Corporation spoke to county council about a new affordable housing master plan June 26. The plan, titled “From Housing Assets to Housing People” aims to address community trends and a 1700-household strong waiting list for subsidized rental units.

Oliveira said the overarching target would amount to about 100 rental units in the city and 40 in the county annually.

“There’s an opportunity there to include those affordable rental targets in our official plans as well as other local plans,” she said.

The new plan lays out seven goals to achieve those new units, including a focus on the long-term viability of non-profit providers, strategic redevelopment, providing a diverse range of rental housing types and creating mixed-income inclusive communities.

Coun. Andrea Roberts expressed some skepticism for the idea to add 40 units in the county annually, noting how private developers have not been going for affordable developments.

“I honestly don’t know if that’s overreaching,” Roberts said.

The city’s manager of human services Hope Lee said the new units need not necessarily be newly built and the figure comes from the county’s official plans.

“We’re going to be looking at other alternatives of providing rent supplements, looking at that secondary suite,” Lee said.

Coun. Brent Devolin said in conversations with private developers in Minden, there’s been more uptake for affordable components.

“That’s a huge change in mindset,” Devolin said. “The numbers are big but potentially do-able.”

Lee also presented council with an overview on the latest about legislative changes at the federal and provincial level which aim to improve rental rules. She highlighted new housing benefits and upcoming changes to simplify things like rent geared to income rules

“I’d say it’s moving in the right direction, but it will still take some time,” Lee said.

Coun. Carol Moffatt said more communication is needed to get people to sign on for municipal programs aimed at encouraging affordable housing development, such as the Housing Help’s Secondary Suite program.

CAO Mike Rutter replied although a new renovation loan program is getting good uptake, the county would try to market secondary suites more.

County council voted unanimously to endorse the master plan.

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