Dropping the ball again

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A lot sure can change in 14 years.

If we were to rewind the clock to February 2009, we’d find Barack Obama settling into his new digs in the Oval Office; Beyonce topping the charts with her hit song Single Ladies; and Liam Neeson enjoying something of a career renaissance following the surprising success of his indie film, Taken.

Apple’s iPhone had yet to really take off, lagging behind the Blackberry in both proficiency and popularity. We were six years away from McDonald’s announcing all-day breakfast. Blockbuster was still a thing. Sidney Crosby had yet to score that goal.

It’s enough to make me sit down and take stock of our current situation and wonder where we’ll be in February 2037… For one lucky family added to the Kawartha Lakes Haliburton (KLH) Housing Corporation waitlist for community housing this winter, they’ll finally be getting the keys to their brand-new place.

Yep – the lineup for subsidized housing in Haliburton County is 2,198 households deep. New additions are told it will likely take between 10 and 14 years before they’re given a home.

In short, we have a bit of a problem.

The blame doesn’t land at the feet of KLH. It can’t even be attributed to Premier Doug Ford’s woeful lack of long-term planning, or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s frivolous spending. No, this is an issue stretching back decades – to 1984 and the federal Conservative government led by Brian Mulroney. During his 10 years in office, Mulroney slashed national affordable housing spending to the tune of $2 billion. His successor, Kim Campbell, went one better in 1993, cancelling any new funding streams for affordable housing altogether.

If ever there was a decision to look back on and criticize, this is it. Talk about dropping the ball.

According to a recent Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) report, we need to build almost six million affordable units nationwide by 2030 to replenish the country’s housing stock and restore affordability for those on moderate to low incomes.

Is it possible? Sure. Is it likely? Probably not. I’d like to be more optimistic – really, I would. But our governments’ track record is shoddy at best. For all his chest thumping over the past six months, lauding himself as the saviour to all our housing headaches, Ford’s plan to build 1.5 million new homes in Ontario over the next 10 years still falls short of what’s needed. Mostly because there’s nothing in his plan that addresses the demand for more affordable housing.

In Haliburton County, KLH has pegged that need at somewhere north of 750 units. As much as Kirstin Maxwell and her team would like to follow through on the organization’s 10-year strategic plan to bring those units online, their hands are tied.

Record inflation and eight consecutive interest rate hikes will do that to you.

It wasn’t nice listening to local leaders like Maxwell, and Minden Hills mayor Bob Carter practically beg the provincial and federal governments to act. We already know where Ford stands, but for MPP Laurie Scott to say, basically, that KLH receives enough money from the province and should prioritize which projects are most important to them, is discouraging.

Watching the feds shell out $19 billion to purchase a new fleet of F-whatever fighter jets, while its people, real people, struggle to find or maintain a roof over their head is, frankly, sickening.

They might not have caused this problem, but it’s on them to fix it. That’s what real leadership is all about. Enough of the lip service, the unnecessary vanity projects. It’s time our money is invested where it’s needed.