Minden ‘can’t wait for the housing fairy’
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | April 19, 2018|
There isn’t enough appropriate, or affordable, housing in Minden Hills, a task force recently told council. The Minden Hills Housing Task Force presented its findings to council’s committee of the whole April 12.
The delegation and accompanying report also included ideas for new types of affordable housing and possible financing. Task force member Fay Martin did most of the talking, along with Bob Carter, outlining the task force’s work since it was created by council on June 30, 2016. “We can’t wait for the housing fairy. We need to put our shoulders to the wheel,” Martin told councillors, staff, media and the public gallery.
Martin said they had done a lot of research. The first thing they found is a lack of rental accommodation. In fact, only 12 per cent of housing in Minden Hills is rental. That compares to 30 per cent across Ontario. Rents are higher than a lot of bigger towns and cities, including London and Kingston, Martin said.
And, although people shouldn’t pay 30 per cent or more for housing, many are, she added. She said another problem is housing stock tends to be large but the area’s households small. That means we have a lot of big houses but mostly one and two-person households. The task force has come up with four housing options that don’t currently exist in Minden Hills, including garden suites or accessory units, clusters of tiny homes, combining housing and retail in the village centre, and a made-in Minden Hills seniors’ campus, a type of graduated housing. Martin said a seniors retirement home was front page news in the Minden Times in 1986, stating, “this is what we need. But it hasn’t happened yet. So, let’s figure out what we need and make it happen.”
Task force housing options
- Garden suites/accessory units on rural property: a garden suite is a one-unit detached residential building with kitchen and bathroom, secondary to another home, designed to be portable. Accessory units can only be occupied by the owner or family/employees of the owner. The task force said they should be permanent, open to anyone and zoned rural residential.
- Clusters of tiny homes: 400 to 450 sq. foot homes permanently located on one lot, connected to public water and sewer.
- Downtown revitalizaton: combining housing and retail in the village centre, to stabilize the main street and provide conveniently located housing. They’re proposing re-purposing a currently underutilized retail property with second-storey and perhaps back-lane housing, maybe home occupation/industry studios with six to 15 housing units.
- Made-in-Minden graduated seniors’ housing: a retirement complex, in partnership with the HHHS/ Local Health Integration Network, for inclusion of long-term care beds, and Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton Housing Corp. for the subsidized units. To start, 40 retirement living units and 40 affordable housing units.
She said a seniors’ campus would require funding from all levels of government. And, Mayor Brent Devolin said the Haliburton Highlands Health Services would have to be a part of any seniors housing development in Minden. Martin said the next step for the task force is to host an all-day consultation to get public input.
“With the intent of engaging people interested in exploring further the implementation of any or all of the templates into informal, ongoing work groups,” she said, adding the public may have suggestions for other housing options that the task force hasn’t advanced.
They’ve proposed Saturday, May 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Minden Hills council chambers. Martin said they hope to bring a tiny house to generate interest and so that people can explore it. After that, a final report will come to council in the fall. Carter talked about the concept of using social bonds to finance housing. He said there are a lot of GTA retirees in Minden with money they could invest in the community and get a three to five per cent return on their investment. He called it a “very reasonable, viable alterantive to raising money.” Following the delegation, Devolin said, “You definitely have my attention.”
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.