Mayor’s remarks on National Housing Day

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by Mayor Nancy Peckford

National Housing Day is an important day to highlight the current challenges many people are facing when it comes to housing in this country. While North Grenville’s Council began tackling this issue in 2018, it has taken time to see progress in this area, particularly given major changes in the private housing and rental market since the pandemic. 

One of our first acts as Mayor and Council in January 2019, was striking an Affordable Housing Task Force and developing a Housing Strategy that implemented many of the Task Force’s recommendations. In 2022, Council established a Municipal Advisory Committee on Affordable Housing which continues to examine the challenges and opportunities for more affordable and attainable housing in North Grenville. 

In the middle of the pandemic, our community was able to seize upon a rare opportunity to bring more rent-geared-to income housing to North Grenville. Born out of a key partnership between the Province of Ontario, the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville (UCLG) and the Municipality of North Grenville in 2021, it has led to the conversion of Kemptville’s old Courthouse in the downtown to ten rent-geared-to-income housing units for those on the Counties’ social housing list, including fully accessible units. Three of the units will be available for emergency or transitional housing and one for vulnerable youth confronting homelessness. North Grenville’s Council opted to lease the building to the Counties for $1 to make this project a reality – and the Province contributed nearly $1.5 million.

This is just one of several affordable housing initiatives that North Grenville is pursuing.

In 2020, Council chose to sever a small parcel of land at the edge of Kemptville Campus to enable one of Habitat for Humanity’s largest projects in eastern rural Ontario. Fifteen affordable town homes are being built right now and will provide a critical path to home ownership for 15 families in our region.  

In another development, New Commons, a not-for-profit housing developer, has recently been approved to construct 109 multi-residential units in two brand new buildings on a vacant parcel of land on Reuben Crescent near the old Armoury. Further, Council has been working towards the establishment of a small pilot project with a local grassroots community group to build five tiny homes for seniors in the heart of the community.

While all of these efforts give us hope, we know that much more needs to be done. It’s clear that updating North Grenville’s planning policies and collaborating with community partners has been a key part of our focus in order to create the momentum we need. This said, Council recognizes that challenges persist, and the need for affordable, attainable and supportive housing is greater than ever. The rising cost of living, a somewhat limited housing supply, and our own evolving demographics in North Grenville require sustained attention, innovative approaches and persistence if we are to overcome where we are right now.

Finally, the term “affordable housing” is often difficult to define as it varies based on factors like age, income, and family status. There is no doubt that our community is in urgent need of a range of affordable and attainable housing options. Many of the new homes that are being built won’t meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable residents. Seniors, youth, and the unemployed face hard choices, such as moving far away or having to stay longer in their parents’ home as adult children. 

On National Housing Day I, alongside my Council colleagues and the Municipality of North Grenville, reaffirm our commitment to prioritizing housing options that are appropriate and within reach. 

We will continue to address these housing challenges by exploring innovative partnerships, securing funding opportunities from the provincial and federal government and advocating for the necessary resources to make North Grenville an even better place to call home.

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