County Council supports EOWC 7 in 7 Regional Housing Plan

(Gazette file photo)



With the County firmly in the grip of an epic housing shortage, Prince Edward County Council voiced unanimous support for the Eastern Ontario Warden Caucus’ (EOWC) 7 in 7 Regional Housing Plan. The affordable and attainable housing plan was presented by Warden Bonnie Clark, Peterborough County and Jim Pine, Chief Administrative Officer of the County of Hastings.

Speaking to council, Clark detailed the significant effect the affordable housing crisis is having on families in this region.

“Tackling the housing and related homeless issues is our primary priority as group. There is a chronic and serious supply problem of not only affordable and regular housing, but also community or social housing, right across our region. That’s certainly the situation here,” exclaimed Clark. “Waitlists for community housing continue to grow across Eastern Ontario, where there are 12,000 to 14,000 families in desperate need for community housing that our municipalities manage.”

Clark went on to detail the lengthy wait times for social housing, which can stretch anywhere from 4.5 years to 10 years.

“Each of us in our jurisdiction has been doing our best to try and manage this and tackle the supply challenge. We’ve made progress but it just isn’t enough,” she said.

Pine explained to tackle the problem the EOWC has devised a bold scheme that will rely on resources from all Eastern Ontario jurisdictions. As he pointed out, there is power in numbers, and Eastern Ontario is well populated, being a region roughly the same size as Nova Scotia.

Ameliasburgh Councillor Janice Maynard. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

“Our group covers a large region. It’s about the same size as Nova Scotia, with approximately 1.5 million people, excluding Ottawa,” said Pine.

In his presentation, Pine illustrated other successful large-scale projects, such those established by the Eastern Ontario Rural Network (EORN) to improve rural connectivity in the region.

Noting that the Ontario Government plans to build 1.5 million new homes by 2031, Pine expressed the importance of ensuring at least some of this new housing supply is affordable.

“We believe we can deliver 7000 new units over the next seven years. It would fit in with what the province is trying to do because it is a supply problem,” stated Pine.

Apart from building affordable housing, as Pine stated, the plan put forth by the EOWC would incentivize an additional 21,000 attainable market rate units from the private and non-profit sectors.

Councillor Janice Maynard reminded Pine that the County is a largely rural jurisdiction, and given that, she inquired as to whether there would be an emphasis on building rural affordable housing.

“Our county is predominantly rural and keeping people close to their support networks seems best,” she said.

Pine confirmed that working with individual housing corporations, such as the Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Corporation, will help ensure solutions are tailor made to suit each individual jurisdiction.

“One thing EOWC has said is we want to make sure we build the housing in smaller communities so people can stay, whether in a village, or elsewhere,” said Pine.

Council approved a letter of support for the EOWC’s 7 in 7 Regional Housing Project and will follow-up with a resolution of support at a future council meeting.