Personal Finance By Nathan Taylor 711 Views

Committee adding members to tackle 'different beast' in affordable housing

A City of Orillia committee is growing in an effort to address new affordable housing challenges.

Council committee this week approved a request from the affordable housing committee to bring on two additional members, bringing the number from five to seven.

The committee currently includes three members of city council and two citizens with experience dealing with affordable housing.

The two additional members will have expertise in affordable housing, which will allow the committee to better address the matter and help prevent issues with quorum, said committee chair Cam Davidson.

“Council, over the last year and a half, has had COVID-19 to deal with. They’ve had the waterfront project … What I’m trying to do is not eliminate any councillor at all. I’m trying to add two people that have the expertise that we need,” he said.

“Times have changed and needs have changed,” he added, noting the pandemic has “thrown housing and rental markets into complete chaos” with skyrocketing costs.

“It’s a crisis.”

Coun. Tim Lauer acknowledged the new challenges related to affordable housing.

“The affordable housing issue was here before COVID, big time, and people were working on it quite vigorously,” he said, but added the increase in housing prices and rent present a different problem when it comes to affordability. “That kind of affordability is a different beast than what we used to be fighting.”

He asked if the committee would be looking at ways to address the issue “for that second group” being affected.

The committee will continue with its initial mandate to try to increase the number of affordable units, Davidson said, but will also work to address the issue of those who are in a position “of being potentially homeless or (who) can’t afford what we have on the market in Orillia.”