CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall City Council heard a five year update to their 10 year Housing and Homelessness Plan at their meeting on Monday, July 8.
Cornwall’s Social and Housing Services is a shared service with the Counties. The division along with consulting firm Re-Fact Consulting held townhalls and received public input within the City of Cornwall and from the United Counties of SD&G.
They identified four community objectives, namely to find housing for the most vulnerable, ensuring that those who already have housing, stay in their housing, ensure that housing stock is suitable and can be maintained, and finally, where there are opportunities to increase the supply of appropriate housing to pursue those opportunities.
The second point was one emphasized by Re-Fact Consulting Principle Ken Foulds.
“When people are not able to maintain their housing, that’s when they start interfacing with the system,” Foulds said.
Part of that strategy includes engaging with the private market and private landlords. Melissa Morgan, Community Housing Supervisor said that the City could take action and introduce incentives to private landowners to help encourage the growth of affordable housing. This strategy included opening up the Ontario Renovates fund which would make renovating social housing cheaper for landlords.
Mayor Bernadette Clement asked if the City already had a suitable stock of social housing.
“We would have an inventory of social housing stock,” said Morgan. “It would be something we would have to work with the planning departments across the various townships. We don’t know until we ask. We will have to work on that going forward.”
Part of the plan to work more closely with the private market was the potential of introducing licenses to landlords.
Chief of Cornwall’s Fire Services Pierre Voisine said that this was something that administration was looking into.
“There is some apprehension around that in regards to the cost and that it might be a cash grab, but the idea from the committee was how to do treat these landowners as businesses,” he said.
Councillor Claude McIntosh asked, if as the way the system works now, if Fire Services knows how many apartments are within a home when they arrive at the scene of a fire.
“This happens on a daily basis,” said Voisine. “We go somewhere and see a place that shouldn’t even be an apartment. Unfinished walls.”
An updated housing plan will be brought to Council for approval on Aug. 12.