Housing dollars a few years off, Devolin says
By Jenn Watt
Published Dec. 14, 2017
Haliburton County has a long way to go on housing, from increasing the number of units of affordable housing to creating incentives for private builders to expanding options for seniors, says Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin.
Billions of dollars over the next 10 years was announced in November to lift tens of thousands of Canadians out of homelessness, assist others in making rent payments, build new affordable housing and repair current housing.
Devolin, who is a member of City of Kawartha Lakes-County of Haliburton Joint Housing and Social Services Advisory Committee and the Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton Housing Corporation Board, said he’s not expecting to know the local implications of the money until sometime in March and that dollars won’t start to roll out for another two years.
“It might be late 19, but it’s more likely 2020 until the rubber meets the road,” said Devolin. “People who have been housing advocates for a long time, it isn’t happening fast enough [for them], but some of them have seen that even within the existing programs we’ve made some headway in the last five or 10 years and this adds some more money and some more dimensions of it.”
Over the last three years, 34 new affordable housing units have been built through the housing corporation with another 33 to come. There are currently 237 financially-assisted housing units within the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County.
In Haliburton County, 414 households are on the waitlist for affordable housing.
Devolin said aside from this funding, Minden Hills has been working toward enticing the private sector to create housing.
He said he wanted to create preferential zoning or community improvement areas, but it’s a long-term process.
“What we had to first do is we had to modify the county official plan so that was permissible. Now that that’s done, we can go to work and we will ..., in the next year or so in Minden Hills, see if we can take advantage of some of those tools … to create some incentives so the private side may do some of this [housing] for us as well,” he said.
The mayor also expressed concern that there is not enough housing for seniors. His preference was a three-stage complex, which would feature one section with retirement home style accommodations; another with long-term care, 24-7 support for those with more serious health issues; and another section for end-of-life care.
During conferences hosted by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, Devolin said there are opportunities for municipal politicians to make delegations to provincial ministers and during that time he would put forward the county’s need for more long-term care housing.
He also pointed out that 2018 is a provincial election year and is the perfect time for citizens to raise issues with candidates.
With files from Sue Tiffin