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Saugeen Shores has an affordability crisis.  I have adult children that live in Edmonton, Canmore, Ottawa, and Victoria.  Condo prices in Edmonton are a bargain compared to Saugeen Shores. Ottawa is cheaper and Canmore is comparable to Saugeen Shores, leaving only Victoria as more expensive.  That is a sobering thought!

Saugeen Shores has all the elements that it needs to make some bold and concrete steps to resolve our affordable housing crisis.  Affordable housing solutions should not make people lifetime renters. Home ownership should not be just a dream for younger people.

The recent rental subsidies announces by Bruce County are welcome, and it will help a few people, but it is a band aid solution and structural deficit for taxpayers. Home ownership is a long term solution.  Home ownership frees up rental spaces, generates property tax, and allows people to have a family home.  More importantly it allows families to build wealth through home equity. People don’t want a subsidy or a handout, they need a reasonably priced home.  We can do that.

I propose a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to build 25 affordable townhouse condos in Saugeen Shores per year for 4 years.  Some of the units could be one story accessible units, but most would be multilevel 3 bedroom. Units would be all brick with lifetime roofs for long lasting and aesthetically pleasing exteriors.  Energy efficient will provide long term energy savings.  A small garage is a must for an active and growing family.

The Town has about 8 hectares beside the YMCA day care.  There is plenty of room in that parcel 100 affordable homes, a nice park to offset the high density, and more room for future affordable housing.  I am not opposed to building units in other parts of town to avoid a concentration, but this where we have land now.

Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce is a willing and experienced partner for this proposal.  They have build Condos in Hanover and homes all over Grey Bruce. 

This is not a handout, this is a hand up.  The land would be bought and paid for by the homeowner.  The project is self funding.  There is no structural deficit in this type of project. The mortgages are geared to income.  It is a win win solution.

As with any project, there is a need for community input and consultation.  We don’t have  to reinvent the wheel, there are many models to choose from.  One option is leasehold, with the Town retaining ownership. A non profit condo corporation is another.

Whether it is leasehold or owned, condo corporation bylaws could made to make it “perpetually affordable”.  Canmore Alberta does this through condo corporation bylaws that don’t allow owners to buy units for rentals, AirBnB, or for investment; they are solely for family homes.  Resale is limited to recovering inflation, so the next buyer can receive the same affordability, the same helping hand.
Personally I would like to see the town dictate an appropriate number of the permits issued be for affordable housing. Saugeen Shores is a desirable place to live.  We don’t have to cater to developers.  Our first loyalty should be to the citizens of Saugeen Shores.  If developers don’t want to build affordable units because there isn’t enough profit in it for them, then we can build them ourselves. We can also find developers that will build what the community needs. It is time for Council to take control of Saugeen Shores development.

The truth is that no one is coming to the rescue. The Bruce County Housing waiting list in creased 30% last year.  Any solution is going to be a community solution.

Saugeen Shores could be a leader in affordable housing.  Saugeen Shores could set the standard for affordable housing.  We can't wait for the County, we can't hope that the next huge apartment building will have a few affordable units. We can built 100 units in 4 years.

This is an amazing community with unlimited potential.  Just look at how the community got behind Lamont Park.  Everywhere you look you see people working to make this community better, through service clubs, organizations, etc.  We have every element we need to solve the housing crisis.  We have the land, we have the partners, we have a supportive community.  Together we can improve housing in Saugeen Shores.

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