The City of Kawartha Lakes unveiled its ideas to address affordable housing and homelessness over the next 10 years through a public consultation session March 14.

The session, held at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 129 Haliburton, invited the public to offer feedback on the municipality’s efforts to address those issues in the city and County of Haliburton. The consultation is part of an effort to create the new 10-year plan.

Twelve people attended, including government officials, landlords and affordable housing advocates. City of Kawartha Lakes manager of housing Hope Lee said it was good to get a broad range of feedback.

“Things we can now incorporate into the plan before it’s finalized,” Lee said. “Even though it was smaller, we still got a lot of involvement. Everybody was enthusiastic.”

The city’s presentation highlighted efforts to address issues to date. It noted the waiting list for financially-assisted housing has expanded 375 per cent since 2013, with nearly 1,700 households on the list today.

The city also presented several policy areas to inform its new plan, including ending homelessness, better co-ordination with other community services, improving energy efficiency of affordable housing and supporting non-profit housing corporations. Each policy had a detailed list of objectives, with consultation participants offering more ideas.

“This is unbelievable, the work that you’ve put into every one of these policy areas,” commented participant Debbie Sherwin. “How many staff hours you’ve put together coming up with all these.”

Kathy Sweeney with the Minden Hills Housing Task Force said the plan is well thought out with a lot of useful background information.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Sweeney said. “It doesn’t really address the need as much as it needs to, but I don’t think it’s entirely up to this group to do that. They need assistance from the private sector.”

Public feedback will be built into the final housing and homelessness plan, which is scheduled to be presented in June.

“There has been interviews, there has been these public consultations, there has been a survey,” Lee said. “We’ll double check to see what was said, has it been incorporated already and if it hasn’t, how do we incorporate it.”

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