Pushing for Progress: Tackling the Housing Crisis in Bracebridge

My latest project in the works in Bracebridge, ON – developing and building rental apartments – is attempting to address Muskoka’s housing crisis.

Bracebridge apartments site plan

The housing crisis in Ontario is well-documented. From Toronto and the GTA to other southeastern areas of the province like Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, Peterborough, Barrie, Muskoka and beyond, there’s a serious shortage of housing – and especially low-priced, attainable and affordable housing. A growing population, increasing costs of home ownership, a lack of well-paid and secure jobs, and increasing numbers of single-person households are all contributing to the crisis.

There’s especially a shortage of rental apartments, because the incentives for builders and developers to create rental housing have been very low since the 90s, and the government hasn’t been able to do it on their own. In Toronto, we’ve seen a proliferation of condos, which have higher profit margins for builders. In regions like Muskoka, rentals haven’t been built because of zoning restrictions, prohibitive development costs and government limitations.

Tackling the Housing Crisis

I’ve written about this problem before. (Check out my blog post “Getting to the Bottom of Ontario’s Rental Problem”.) To increase rental supply, I think the best solution is for the private sector (people like me!) to work with government.

This is being done sporadically, but many are skeptical about private/public partnerships, especially with developers.

However, we can all see that neither government nor the private sector alone has been able and/or willing to build sufficient rental housing. Working together is the only way to improve our housing crisis.

My Latest Initiative: Proposed Rental Apartments in Bracebridge

I’ve recently encountered this problem directly in Bracebridge, ON (Muskoka), where I’ve been trying to stir things up by pushing forward an exciting new project.

I have a vision for a rental housing project on Woodward Street in Bracebridge. It seeks to address Bracebridge’s housing shortage by bringing 49 new attainable, accessible, net zero-ready, energy efficient, environmental, low impact rental units to the community. This offers a high level of social benefit and increases the rental housing options available, which is beneficial to all.

In the past 5 years (2015-2019), according to data from the Town of Bracebridge, only 22 multi-residential apartment units have been approved for construction in Bracebridge. I’m proposing to add 49, which is double the total for the past 5 years.

I’ve been asking for the Town of Bracebridge and the District of Muskoka to work with me by rezoning the 2.2 acre parcel of land to allow for the higher density I need for this new apartment rental project. I’m also going to ask for relief from development charges (levies) and building permit and other development fees.

This project has great community social benefits, and yet opposition from NIMBY neighbouring homeowners has been an issue. The development process typically addresses objections from opponents more than it addresses supporters. That may be because most development projects – especially rental construction – have more objectors (typically NIMBYs and immediate neighbours) than supporters.

I’m therefore now working to engage the people of Bracebridge and to gather public support for this project. I want to give a voice to the many unheard champions and supporters of much-needed rental housing in Bracebridge. 

I think that if local Bracebridge politicians know there’s support from the larger community, it will help them to fend off the NIMBY neighbours. I want to help the decision makers hear from supporters, and not just the neighbours who are in opposition – who are typically the only ones to show up to public meetings about new developments such as this one.

We need to do what is right for the entire community. Given the housing needs in Bracebridge, I believe that my rental concept may have more supporters than objectors.

There’s been a high level of local interest in this project, and it has been covered in several local media sources:

If you support this project, please submit a written statement of support today to planning@bracebridge.ca. Please include your name, hometown, and reason for interest/support in the project.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Comment below or find me on Facebook or LinkedIn to join the conversation!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cameron Ridsdale
    Mar 10, 2020 @ 20:05:12

    Way to go, John.

    Reply

  2. Mark
    Mar 13, 2020 @ 13:22:11

    Hi John Amardeil, are you looking for local investment?

    Reply

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