Rural municipalities shines light on attainable housing

Rural Ontario is a crisis situation when it comes to attainable housing.

Minden Hills Councillor Pam Sayne attended the 2023 Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference in Toronto in January. It was decided there that the organization would adopt a full court press in its lobbying of the provincial government to address housing issues.

Sayne provided a heads up to the township council Feb. 23 during its regular public meeting.

“We have a social economic crisis in our housing issues across the province,” she said.

ROMA is asking every municipality, every level of government to support the effort to deliver more affordable housing.

The association formed the Attainable Housing Task Force in April 2022 as the first step of its action plan dubbed Opportunities for Rural Ontario in a Post-COVID World.

The task force is comprised of housing industry experts, municipal staff, and ROMA board members. Sayne is a member of the board. Informed by a member survey, the task force looked for practical steps to address the rural housing crisis.

Sayne said there’s been much talk about attainable housing and affordable housing. Attainable housing is adequate housing that’s appropriately sized for the number of inhabitants and it’s available and affordable.

We have a shortage of housing that’s erratically priced.

“People cannot afford housing on any kind of a living wage at this point,” she said. “It’s getting worse.”

She said available housing is often overcrowded by several generations of family living together in the same space. And that’s just not adequate, she said.

According to ROMA, creative solutions are needed to give municipalities the flexibility and authority to craft approaches that are consistent with their communities’ aspirations while respecting the spirit of key pieces of legislation like the Planning Act and the Provincial Policy Statement.

The current legislative, regulatory and policy regime for housing in Ontario contains many barriers that hamstring efforts by municipal governments and others in rural Ontario to implement well-designed solutions.

“There’s a lot of things that we need to do to understand what attainable housing is,” Sayne said. “It is now what we consider an emergency situation.”


James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Minden Times