Social sustainability means access to safe, affordable housing, to healthy affordable food and adequate affordable public transportation.
Currently, the County is building a $40 million affordable housing complex with 147 units on High Street and Second Streets
Simcoe County has a median after tax household income of approximately $68,000 and Collingwood has a median after tax household income of approximately $57,000 which is $11,000 below the County average and the 5th lowest in the County.
Social sustainability in Collingwood is a very real issue and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor have critical roles to play on County Council to represent the residents of Collingwood on these issues. The County of Simcoe receives Provincial funding for social programs such as affordable housing initiatives, Ontario Works, senior’s homes and early year’s programs to protect those in need and, as a lower tier municipality, Collingwood relies on these County programs to fund our local programs.
Currently, the County is building a $40 million affordable housing complex with 147 units on High Street and Second Streets which is to be completed in the spring of 2019. This complex is replacing the existing 30-unit affordable housing complex which means Collingwood will be getting 117 new affordable units.
Under the County’s 10-year affordable housing and homelessness strategy (2014-2024), the County has a target of 2,685 new units County-wide and Collingwood has a local target of 134 new units. With the addition of the 117 units, Collingwood will have 17 units to meet its 10-year target. In March this year, Council passed a motion to expand the opportunities for Secondary Suites in qualifying detached and semi-detached homes.
The vacancy rate in Collingwood is less than 1.4% and we need in excess of 3% to have a healthy rental inventory. If we don’t have enough rental inventory, we are going to have a difficult time moving forward with affordable housing issues and accommodating young families to come and settle in our community or those with fixed incomes.
Collingwood has been very progressive in its approach to affordable transportation with the Colltrans bus service. Collingwood operates an intra-municipal route connecting Wasaga Beach to Collingwood to Blue Mountains which enables people to live and work in different communities without a car.
Simcoe County has just launched its Simcoe Linx service with the Midland/Penetanguishene to Barrie route (with stops in Wyebridge, Waverley, Elmvale and Midhurst) as part of its intra-municipality bus service. Collingwood will be connected to Barrie with a Simcoe Linx route scheduled to start in 2019/2020. This enhanced affordable and reliable transportation system is a critical part of the social sustainability agenda which I have had the pleasure of participating in as a County Councillor for Collingwood.
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