Housing shortage dominates discussions during MP’s visit to Rotary

While fossil fuels, vaccine passports and development in Huntsville were among the topics discussed at a Huntsville Rotary Club remote meeting last Wednesday with guest speaker Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Scott Aitchison, the need for more housing in the community was in the foreground. and center.

Aitchison was asked to comment on the causes of the housing shortage.

He said there are several factors. One of the main issues he attributed to the shortage here is that people are leaving the cities and coming to the area. While in Canada’s major urban centers, such as Toronto and Vancouver, foreign investment is the source of housing shortages and rising costs.

“Our real estate market is hot,” said Aitchison. “It continues to grow because global players see it as a great investment market and so that helps drive up prices in major urban centers… and of course our proximity to Toronto means people are escaping there. and come here and it has a major impact.

Measures have been announced, such as a tax on non-resident homeowners or investors, to ensure that they don’t just buy, speculate and raise costs, but they do not a big enough impact. Aitchison said the rising cost of building materials also drives up costs and that in Muskoka, the growing income disparity between those who have moved here due to the pandemic, those who vacation here and those who live and work here is increasing and making it difficult for year round residents to buy and rent in the area.

And then there is the Residential Tenancies Act. Homeowners complain that the odds are increasingly stacked against them. “I think a lot of people who might have considered renting, you know, a duplex or investing that way, the frustrations with the owner and the tenant act, that’s a problem. You know people aren’t willing to lose money if they have a bad tenant, it’s hard to take. So there are a lot of factors, ”Aitchison said.

As election rumors loom, Aitchison told Rotarians that the Conservative Party would have “policy proposals important enough for Canadians to help resolve this housing crisis,” although he did not specify what would be. these proposals.

Discussions on the housing shortage continued. One Rotarian suggested that resorts should provide accommodation for staff and went so far as to say that there might be a grant “to help large resorts do that.”

Aitchison noted that some business owners in the area, although they are not in the housing market, have taken it upon themselves to purchase rental housing in order to house their employees.

“Larry Greenwood, who owns the, I’m sure you all know, owns all the Tim Hortons in the area, I was talking to him the other day. I think he said he has about 16 rental units now. He’s not in the rental business. He sells coffee but he needs these units because I mean nobody here wants to work and if you will allow me just a hint of partisanship I think ECP (Canadian Emergency Benefit) is a bit of a problem . It continues to leave children at home, choosing not to work if they don’t have to… and I’ve seen it all over the country in recent months, there are help-seeking signs everywhere , so… they bring people into the country that they can go to work, but then they have to give them a place to live because there are no places to live. He said that in finding a way to support these companies in this effort, “I think it’s a very smart investment of public funds to get the private sector to do the job.”

Aitchison added that a holistic approach is needed to solve the problem, much like in the 1950s. “We need a federal government that is prepared to focus on this as a top priority, not as something where they give money to the provinces here and there and hope someone else takes care of the problem, ”he said, adding that while it affects some areas more than others, it s This is a crisis across the country. “We need a new CD Howe, we still need that kind of leadership in government. ”

Prompted by a question regarding the extent of housing development in the area, Aitchison said that within Huntsville’s urban service boundaries, there are approximately 3,000 approved development lots in the subdivisions, many of which have subdivisions. planning approvals for decades. “But they’re starting to be built now and you go to the north end of town over there, you’ll see where Andy Kidd… so high up.”

As for the rural area, Aitchison, speaking about his experience as the former mayor of Huntsville, said it’s much harder to find rural land these days. “And I’m partly responsible for that. One of the things we did in one of our Official Plan iterations was doubled the minimum requirements to separate a lot and create a lot in the rural area. We did it because, of course, we wanted to make sure that the rural area remains as rural as possible so that those, you know, the rural homes are a little further away, ”he said. “I don’t think it has had a major impact on the ability of people to build and get lots, there continues to be a lot of break-ups happening in Huntsville. In fact, for a very long time, the majority of Huntsville’s growth has occurred in the rural area, not in the urban area. That has changed now… most of the growth is now in the urban area, which has relieved some of the pressure on the rural area.

Aitchison said these housing estates need to be built to help provide more housing. “We have to put shovels in the ground on a lot of these subdivisions and of course the developers are hungry, they are eager to go because it is well known that Huntsville is absolutely on fire and this is the place to go. make money and build, “he said.” So there’s more to come for sure. “

He was also asked about vaccine passports, to which Aitchison said, “For now, I would definitely suggest that in the short term, the concept of vaccine passports will likely be real if you travel between countries. In fact, I don’t think it will happen to travel within Canada. That’s my guess and I think it’s probably pretty reasonable.

Aitchison was also questioned about the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline built in 1953, which opponents say is old and dangerous and could cause catastrophic damage to the Great Lakes and the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac that connects the lake. Huron at Lake Michigan. While the matter is currently in court, Aitchison spoke about fossil fuels in general. “You know, there’s no question that we need to move away from fossil fuels, but it doesn’t happen overnight, and we keep using the product while we have to. We can’t literally pitch the country completely in darkness, you know, while we’re dealing with this issue, so I think we’ll be fine in the end.

Regarding line 5, Aitchison said, “There’s a part of me that feels like it probably should have been addressed earlier rather than somehow at 11.e hour, but I know there was a lot of behind-the-scenes work on it.

“There’s not a lot of airtime now, I guess, largely because it’s an arbitration… day,” I said, “Alberta should just decide to shut down the faucet, turn it off for a week and see how fast people say we have to stop using fossil fuels now, and see how fast they realize “oh, I guess maybe we need to speed up the transition, but we still have to use it.

Although no election was officially called, political parties began to campaign.

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