Few things are more important to a community than having homes that are affordable. This applies equally to those who are interested in home ownership and those who are seeking rental housing. However, there is no single solution – making homes affordable requires a multi-pronged approach.
To start, we need to make it as easy to build in St. Catharines as we can. This means removing red tape – both at City Hall and at the Region – that slows down housing projects, adds unnecessary costs, and increases the price to home buyers and renters. As the Councillor for the downtown where we have been fortunate to see a great deal of development in recent years, I’ve seen first-hand the hurdles builders have to overcome to get their plans approved. Every additional day dealing with a new bureaucratic request is money wasted and increases housing prices. While some improvements have been made during my time on Council, I believe there is more we can do in this area and I will work to reduce the burden on builders and in turn reduce some of the pressure on housing prices.
There is also a bigger picture we must focus on. There is a clear-cut affordable housing crisis in St. Catharines and Niagara as a whole. This past year I worked to have the City allocate some funding into a seed fund for affordable housing startups. Groups often struggle in the initial stages to get their plans off the ground and this seed fund will allow local community groups that have land and want to build affordable housing to get their projects started.
These are two areas where I have personally begun to work on this issues and where I see room for continued improvements to address the issue of affordable housing for St. Catharines residents.