Housing in North Perth workplan discussed at Oct. 17 council meeting

NORTH PERTH – An action plan dedicated to housing in North Perth was presented at the Oct. 17 North Perth council meeting.

In May of this year, council requested that staff prepare a report regarding action being taken by North Perth and Perth County in relation to affordable housing.

“Housing affordability and availability is a significant issue currently facing residents in North Perth and the Province of Ontario. Housing is an issue affecting residents of all ages, from young families to seniors, and all areas, from those living in urban cities and rural areas,” stated the report presented to council by Jessica McLean, manager of strategic initiatives for North Perth.

“Our ability to attract youth and young families cannot happen if there is no housing available that they can afford.”

The proposed plan prioritizes that the municipality has diverse housing options and improved housing density.

Municipal staff have performed an initial jurisdictional scan of material such as studies, reports, programs and guides from both the provincial and federal governments, service associations and other municipalities, as well as discussion and information gathered over recent years from within the municipality to gain insight into what action is currently being taken to address the housing crisis.

“A key finding of the jurisdictional scan is that housing is a complex issue which requires an all-of-government approach. The collaboration of federal, provincial, and municipal governments is essential to brainstorm and develop solutions to meet the needs of citizens.”

The workplan on the provision of attainable and affordable housing has been developed.

It will assist the staff in the near future in relation to the municipal housing portfolio. Progress reports will be brought forward to North Perth council on a regular basis, with budgetary requests being included in the municipal budget. The outlined steps will include forms of public consultation and engagement.

The table outlined in the report looks at a specific focus area, the action required, the time period and the resources required.

Firstly, the ‘incentivize’ focus area looks at investigating and developing an Affordable Housing Community Improvement Plan. The timeline is fall 2022 to spring 2023, and the approximate cost is $26,000, and is to be included in the municipal budget.

Secondly, ‘indirect policy changes’ aims to provide continued involvement in the development of the new county Official Plan. It looks to advocate for policies that support the development of higher-density, affordable housing. Another action it will take is that of developing helpful tools, guides and checklists to support residents and builders interested in building Additional Dwelling Units (ADUs). It will also promote the benefits of ADUs, house sharing, etc. Further, this action will see housing workshops hosted with local developers and builders, and will investigate tools to help support residents who are seeking or providing rental housing. It plans to investigate municipal development and provision of tiny homes. Additionally, it looks to collaborate and support local community partners on solutions to affordable homes and rentals. These actions will be ongoing, and will take time and resources to complete. However, it will be accounted for in the 2023 Department Business Plan.

The last focus area is ‘direct intervention’, which consists of planning and construction of affordable housing units, background preparation for submission to possible Intake 3 of Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI). There is an importance of having a shovel-ready project for successful RHI application. Further, it looks at identifying potential properties, as RHI includes streams for new builds and renovations.

Finally, continuing municipal involvement with the North Perth Access Centre project with the United Way Perth-Huron and Community Renewal Company. This is to be done from Fall 2022 to Spring 2023.

The council of the Municipality of North Perth received the report and approved it on Oct. 17 with the associated budgetary requests to be included in the 2023 municipal budget.

Melissa Dunphy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner