HUNTSVILLE – The District of Muskoka has scrapped development charge waivers for affordable housing and has replaced them with a new program.
“The development charge waivers were the best plan we had in the early stages,” said Huntsville Coun. Fran Coleman. “I didn’t want to do away with those waivers until we came up with a better plan. And I think this is it.”
Coleman made her comments at a district council meeting on June 17.
The new program involves two bylaws.
“One bylaw would create a framework for program initiatives that will flexibly respond to the wide range of housing needs,” stated a media release. “A second bylaw redirects current district expenditures into the program in a phased manner over the next five years.”
The district will fund the new affordable housing initiative by redirecting about $325,000 in annual expenditures on waivers for development charges as well as about $215,000 in savings from social assistance expenditures beginning in 2014, according to the release.
Stephen Cairns, commissioner of finance and corporate services, stated in the release that the previous development charge waiver has assisted development of modest single-family homes since 2009. “We have invested over $1 million in reimbursements and we could use these funds much better and more strategically to fund multi-residential and other housing programs.
Rick Williams, commissioner of community services, noted that there are housing shortages for low-income seniors, low-income single adults, adults with disabilities and single-parent families with children under age 18.
“Each of these groups is growing across Muskoka and we are not seeing the development of quality rental accommodation to meet these needs,” stated Williams in the release. “Our wait list for rental accommodation continues to grow at a rate of 75 units per year on top of the 650 already waiting. We need to change that.”