Barrie MPP Ann Hoggarth announced on Friday that Ontario is providing more than a $1 million in funding for Barrie’s rental housing market.
Hoggarth announced that the Ontario government will give the city over $1.5 million to provide development charge rebates to developers who want to build affordable housing units in the city.
This is to address a report that came out last week, which showed Barrie as having the second-highest rent in Ontario, after Toronto.
According to the mayor of Barrie, Jeff Lehman, when it comes to affordable housing, municipalities are “stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
If municipalities don’t charge the full development charge, the taxpayer is stuck footing the bill for all the costs of growth. He says development charge rebates offer an excellent way for growth to pay for growth, while also providing an incentive for the construction of rental housing.
As for how the city got here, Lehman says ultimately, it’s a supply and demand problem.
“We are a growing city, so there’s always demand, but it’s a supply problem. We are not building enough rental apartments, we haven’t been for 30 years. A lot of reasons for that, some of which the government has been addressing now. But especially the economics haven’t worked in the city of Barrie so most of our big rental buildings in Barrie, by and large, were all built in the ’60s and ’70s.”
He says there have been a few attempts made in the last few years to fix the problem; namely the construction of the 900-unit YMCA development on Grove Street.
“For those projects to work economically, the city can’t be charging full development charges and expect to get affordable housing.”
He says the rebates in conjunction with community improvement programs in place are the answer, and is delighted by the announcement. “The government has really stepped in to support that with real dollars so I’m delighted to see that. Ontario has followed through with a key piece, I think, of supporting affordable housing.”
Hoggarth says the rebates are just one part of the Ontario government’s multi-faceted strategy to help Ontarians find affordable places to live. She says the plan also includes measures to address overwhelming demand, protect renters and homebuyers, and increase the supply of housing.
According to Hoggarth, through the fair housing plan, the Ontario government has extended rent control to all private rental buildings, has created a new standardized lease to protect tenants and landlords, and have been working on translating a guidebook into 23 languages to help newcomers understand their rights as renters.
Hoggarth says all of this is in an effort to ensure everyone in Ontario has an affordable place to call home.
This news comes the same week a 25-unit affordable housing apartment building was destroyed by a fire in the city’s south end.