By Tammy Schneider
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
It has been well publicized that Ontario, as well as other provinces, is suffering a housing crisis. Single family homes sell for well above asking price, and rental units are scarce and those available are expensive.
When Municipal council engaged the community to create its strategic plan back in 2020, housing affordability was identified as an area of concern by many residents.
In response to this, council directed municipal staff and the Community Economic Development committee to create a Housing Action Plan, identifying things the municipality can do to address the housing issue.
The first step in that process is the collection of data to find out what the housing needs and concerns of area residents are. To collect that information, the municipality has launched a Municipal Housing Survey that it is asking all residents to complete.
“Housing is an important issue in our community,” said mayor Gerry Glover. “We encourage all residents and anyone seeking housing in the Municipality of Kincardine to complete the Municipal Housing Survey, as this will guide the development of our Housing Action Plan and allow us to better plan for future growth.”
To spread the word about the survey and maximize the number of respondents, the municipality is mailing postcards to every mailing address within the Municipality. The cards list the reason for the survey and options on how to participate.
The municipality partnered with Bruce Community Futures, who is providing the funding for the survey development and analysis, and enlisted the services of Metroline Research Group to develop and deliver the study.
The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete and asks respondents for the specifics of their current living situation, their view of the housing situation in Kincardine, and their thoughts on how the situation could be improved. Demographic information – age, household size and employment status – is also being collected.
Responses are anonymous and information collected will be used only to compile an accurate and thorough analysis of the local housing situation.
The survey will remain open until Apr. 22, when all responses will be compiled into a report that will be presented to council.
While affordable housing is most often considered to be a county responsibility, Cherie Leslie, the municipality’s community economic development coordinator, said “Housing involves multiple layers of government. There is a role the municipality can play to support the development of more housing and more affordable housing options.”
Locally, there are housing development projects in the works, both owned residences and rentals, but the projects are at various stages of approval and most won’t be completed in the immediate future. A new 54- unit apartment building is being constructed on the corner of Sutton Street and Gary Street, a new residential subdivision north of town and off the B-Line and another phased development on the property near where Meridian Credit Union now sits.
Leslie said currently over 80% of the dwelling units in the Municipality are single family homes and these are typically no longer affordable to low and medium income households. High pricing for the few homes that are for sale make ownership for many unobtainable.
She reinforces mayor Glover’s request that everyone complete the housing survey. The higher the response rate, the more accurate picture we will have on housing needs in the community. The survey can be found at www.kincardine.ca/housing, or for those without online capabilities, by calling Metroline at 1-800-827-0676 x1 and referring to the Kincardine Housing Survey. Other accommodations can be made by contacting Cherie Leslie at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 519-385-5310.
Residents are also encouraged to visit http://www.kincardinetalks.ca/housing, an online forum for ideas and discussion that addresses a variety of important topics pertinent to the community, including housing.