Housing an election issue
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | April 19, 2018|
There weren’t many surprises in a presentation by the Minden Hillls Housing Task Force to last week’s committee of the whole.
The task force’s findings, by the way, could arguably be applied to the entire County of Haliburton. The same sorts of problems exist whether you live in Minden, Haliburton or Wilberforce.
The task force figures the Housing Help Centre serves people eligible for housing subsidies, and real estate agents assist those looking to buy homes. That leaves a group they’ve dubbed “the missing middle” as their area of focus.
In large part, those are the renters. And, things aren’t good for them. Across Ontario, there’s about 30 per cent rental accommodation. In Minden, that figure plummets to just 12 per cent. Rents are higher than in bigger cities and towns, such as London and Kingston.
The task force found out that almost a quarter of homeowners, and nearly one half of renters are struggling to afford housing. Affordable market rent is $871 for a one-bedroom with utilities included; $1,075 for a two-bedroom, $1,246 for a three-bedroom.
Housing stock isn’t crash hot either, as it tends to be large while our households are small. For example, only about one-third of accommodation is one or two-bedroom.The other two-thirds is three and four-bedroom.
And, yet, we have more than 75 per cent one and two-bedroom households. The math doesn’t add up.
The task force is recommending four new kinds of housing ... including garden suites and accessory units, clusters of tiny homes, combining housing and retail, and graduated seniors living. They’re planning an open house May 19 to talk about their ideas.
As we embark upon this year’s municipal election, there’s no doubt to us at The Highlander that one of the biggest issues is affordable housing for Haliburton County. Without it, we won’t attract the workers we so desperately need to address our workplace shortages. It will also impact the college if students continue to struggle to find reasonably-priced accommodation near the HSAD campus.
And, just as the task force is recommending some pretty bold alternatives ... after all, things like tiny
homes have not been welcomed with open arms around these parts ... our elected politicians must be visionaries. They must look beyond what’s been done to date -and what is now failing - to come up with
bold ideas, or at the very least support the ideas of people such as Fay Martin and her colleagues on the task force.
Martin mentioned that the need for a seniors retirement home was front page news in the Minden Times in 1986. Thirty-two years later and not enough has been done. It’s time to elect municipal politicians who can get affordable housing built in Haliburton County, not just continue to talk about it.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.