Creation of Modest Housing Solutions

This is the second in Steve’s series of posts about his Priorities.

This one is tricky. I have seen first hand that people do not want multi-story apartment buildings in their backyard. At the same time, our community needs a broader variety of more modest housing solutions, including rental dwellings. One of the most efficient ways to build attainably priced housing (with lower maintenance costs) is to create multi-story apartment buildings. While these types of structures don’t fit my vision of small town living either, I think back to when the Trillium apartments were built in Ward 2, when I was 12. I recognize  that they did not scar the landscape of the north end of Paris and they have provided 50 affordably priced homes for the past 4 decades for people who needed them. The apartment tower at Telfer Place is another example, also located in Ward 2. We do need these types of buildings and we need to find the right design – and location – to integrate them into our community while keeping our small town charm.

When I speak to people about housing solutions, I often use the word Modest rather than Affordable.  I live in a modest house, in a neighbourhood of modest houses that were built 100 years ago. Back then, Paris had a population of 3000 people and 1000 of them worked at local factories like Penmans. They walked to work and they needed housing that worked within their budgets. 

Nobody is building modest houses today, and that is a significant concern of mine. As I expressed in an article in The Walrus published October 2021 and in this post, we need to find ways to deliver similar (but modern day versions of) modest solutions for the people who live here today. Not every person needs or wants to live in a 2500 square foot home with a 3 car garage and a marble backsplash in their kitchen. There are many modern housing products available today, and we need to either create an incentive for developers to build them, or the local government needs to build them ourselves. During the last 4 years, I have been a member of the Mayors’ Task Force on Affordable Housing and projects like the new Trillium building are some of the solutions that came out of those efforts.

What are we doing to help housing affordability and where people will live?

  • New Official Plan with a Growth Management Strategy to slow and manage residential growth over 30 years
  • Gentle density in existing and new neighbourhoods to build the missing middle and modest, smaller homes
  • Increasing our rental stock with multiple units to serve all age groups (but especially Seniors who are downsizing and young people who are just starting out)
  • Allowing Additional Residential Units up to two units per existing house (see my post on Ward 2’s first ARU)
  • Building more seniors and retirement homes
  • Collaboration between our Council and the City of Brantford and developers to build subsidized affordable housing
  • New Official Plan recommendation to encourage mixed-use commercial and residential units on main streets

Learn More about Steve’s Priorities: