Developers, politicians and advocates gathered to find solutions to housing at a forum Oct. 18.
More than 30 people attended the event at the West Guilford Community Centre. The summit featured presentations and discussions about how organizations could work to address the lack of affordable housing in Haliburton.
Aging Well, CARP Chapter 54 and Places for People organized the event. Places for People vice president Fay Martin said it led to important conversations.
“Wherever you have people who don’t usually talk to each other, talking to each other, you usually get the ingredients for progress and I think we accomplished it,” Martin said.
One of the focal points of the day was a panel of mostly private developers talking about different projects they are working on in Haliburton county. Developer Bill Switzer discussed building a series of semi-detached housing units through a private-public partnership in Minden. He credited the efforts of the Minden Hills Housing Task Force for helping the development make progress. He said he hopes to finish it in three years.
“We hope that we will set up a formula that can be transported to other areas,” Switzer said. “It’s not that difficult to do, but people like me, you need a roadmap. And there is no roadmap right now on how to do this.”
Minden Hills Housing Task Force chair Bob Carter spoke about the difficulties posed by the lack of housing and said private developers are not focused on affordable developments.
“There’s not a line of developers who are waiting to come into Haliburton to build housing,” Carter said. “If we want this done, we’re going to have to do it ourselves.”
The day wrapped up with a series of group discussions on what actions need to happen to implement different housing models.
“The conversation was very robust. People were not necessarily ready to stop,” Martin said. “There was a very good quality of engagement.”
Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt said she wants to keep the conversation going.
“There’s definitely a lot more housing being developed … but there remains huge gaps and hurdles, too much confusion, a wee bit of misinformation and definitely not enough options,” Moffatt said in a Facebook post. “We need to do better.”
Martin said she would like to see the summit lead to something in the vein of the Minden Hills Housing Task Force at the county-level. She further said the county needs to address development hurdles and incongruencies across the different townships.
“There needs to be someplace where people can talk about what’s happening, what needs to happen and being part of helping to make it happen,” Martin said. “Now would be a really good time to have those conversations and begin to harmonize those bylaws.”