We’ve all seen the impact of rapidly escalating house prices on family, friends, neighbours, and those now finding themselves on the street. Increased mortgage rates, while dampening sales, have done nothing to dampen need. Significant demand with decreased availability, particularly of rental spaces, has created significant increase in cost of housing across the spectrum of buyers.
Housing was a key issue for me when I first ran for mayor in 2018 and I have focused a great deal of my time, energy and creativity this term on the vision that everyone deserves a roof over the head.
Recognizing the worsening housing issue early on, with the support the Team of Council and Staff for Midland, the Town purchased 20 acres on the south side of Balm Beach Road. It was essential that we position Midland to have land and projects “shovel-ready” for upcoming tranches of monies toward housing so that we stopped being passed over.
Shortly after that achievement, Council waived $400,000 of development charges for the second phase of shelter now and along with Tay, Tiny and Penetanguishene contributed $100,000 each to project. These funds plus a $2,000,000 private donation, along with County and Provincial support combined to see 32 units of transitional housing under construction in Midland.
Recent efforts by myself and the Deputy Mayor at County Council to support the Guesthouse debt consolidation resulted in Simcoe County underwriting much of the debt as a consolidated mortgage. The result was ~$40,000 per year being directed towards improved operation and capacity expansion at this key time when homelessness is increasing.
Council struck a housing committee and a homelessness committee to deal with these 2 issues with mixed success. The homelessness committee met 3 or 4 times, couldn’t achieve quorum and suggested dissolution of the committee. The housing committee successfully budgeted for the Shelter Now expansion. The committee’s global scan of successful housing initiatives, a survey of Midlands residents, an inventory of municipal resources and determining potential partners, resulted in a report that budgeted for a Community Improvement Plan (CIP) for housing.
The CIP public engagement process and report paves the way for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to endorse the CIP and exempt the Town from Municipal Act prohibitions around ‘bonusing’. Effectively Midland will have the tools to provide incentives for the creation housing that is within reach of working people that otherwise could not afford to enter the market. This is a big step as lower tier municipalities are not mandated to deal with housing. Once completed, we can sit at the table with developers and financial institutions, as well as CMHC and other federal agencies, at County, and the province.
Please be sure to engage with the folks running the CIP process to ensure your voices are heard!
County Economic Development Review and Impact of Housing
Western Ontario Wardens Caucus regarding Attainable Housing
County Support for Guesthouse
Town of Midland’s Housing Committee Homepage