Ontario Construction News staff writer
Collingwood council will decide in February if the town should create a special committee to tackle affordable housing.
A motion asking for staff to investigate the potential committee was approved unanimously.
“We need this task force to help inform and position ourselves in a number of areas . . . for advocacy to other orders of government and other organizations, and other avenues of innovation in terms of attainable housing and also informing our budget for 2022,” said councillor Kathy Jeffery.
The role of the task force would be to advise council on ways to encourage developers to create attainable and affordable housing and to lobby other levels of government for financial support.
“It’s really important for us to get on with this. I know it is referenced through the OP review, but . . . as important as the policies are going forward, they’re not going to be a quick enough turnaround to make the impact we’re going to need in our community to keep people safe and housed,” she said. “That’s the gist of this request.”
While attainable and social-housing programs are funded by the County of Simcoe, not local municipalities, Collingwood council believes the municipality must look for local solutions.
Jeffrey said the approach to create housing for Collingwood’s vulnerable youth and homeless needs to take advantage of existing funding streams.
“Many municipalities are getting ahead of the curve with obtaining motels and hotels that are closing down and converting them with this funding. I believe the task force has the ability to do things in a much more timely fashion than burdening the staff with the entire development or researching what it is we need or how we need to partner to make our situation better.”
Deputy Mayor Hull suggest staff reach out to the Georgian Triangle Development Institute, “because I think they have some insight . . . and could be part of the solution.”
Mayor Brian Saunderson confirmed that lack of affordable housing is “a very big and multi-faceted issue” for Collingwood.
Creating a taskforce, he says, could be the first step to creating a local or regional housing strategy . . . “and that may dovetail into our official plan.”
“I know it is a very large topic.”