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Affordable Housing Strategy (AHS)

The City's Affordable Housing Strategy aims to encourage, stimulate and increase the supply and range of affordable housing options to meet the needs of our residents, at all income levels and stages of life. 

In May 2022, the City of Barrie released its annual report​​ that monitors affordable housing trends and progress made in 2021, as well as a report card​ that evaluates the City’s success in achieving the recommendations of the AHS. While a number of achievements have been made, housing needs continue to rise; for this reason, the City will be undertaking an update to the AHS beginning in fall 2022.

The City of Barrie's Affordable Housing Strategy (AHS), completed in 2015, is a 10-year plan based on the County of Simcoe’s Affordable Housing Strategy. The strategy examined the 2013 housing situation in Barrie and recommended a series of action items.

Each year, the City takes stock of progress made to meet the affordable housing targets set in the strategy.

​Understanding the City's Role in Affordable Housing​​

The County of Simcoe is the designated service manager for the City under the Housing Services Act, 2011. The County is responsible for planning, funding and managing social housing programs and homelessness services. The City can encourage and facilitate the provisions of affordable housing through initiatives, programs and policies; however, the City does not provide or manage housing.

Laying the Foundation for Affordable Housing

The City’s goal was to create 840 affordable units by 2024. The AHS recommends a variety of action items including short-, mid- and long-term items. The strategy recommended revisions to the Official Plan including:

  • amending the existing Second Suites policies to increase permissions for this housing form;
  • the addition of new policies regarding applications for condominium conversions;
  • the addition of new policies regarding the purchase and sale of City lands for affordable housing;
  • the addition of new policies including affordable housing in Community Improvement Plans; and
  • the addition of new policies permitting the temporary use of garden suites for 20 years.

Creating Affordable Rental Units

The City recognizes there is a shortage of affordable housing, in particular affordable rental housing. Barrie is not alone in this, and the City is working on several initiatives to address this problem.

2021 Amendments to the Zoning By-law
In Otcober 2021, the City of ​Barrie adopted two by-law amendments to Zoning By-law 2009-141 to facilitate more and better affordable housing options. See Zoning By-law Updates for Affordable Housing​ for details.
Updating the Second Suites policy​

The City has updated the Second Suites policy and laws to allow existing property owners to register secondary rental units more quickly and easil, including within the Georgian College Neighbourhood area. The City has also implemented the provincial requirements to permit a third dwelling unit, in the form of a detached accessory dwelling unit (DADU), as an accessory use to a single detached dwelling, semi-detached dwelling or street townhouse dwelling. The City recently made additional updates​ to the standards for second suites and DADUs to address concerns regarding affordability and land use compatibility.

Simcoe County continues to offer grants to eligible property owners encouraging them to add affordable second suites to their properties. 

Affordable Housing grants

The City-wide Community Improvement Plan (CIP) includes an Affordable Housing Development Grant Program to help fund future affordable housing projects. Since the introduction of the new CIP in 2020, a total of $2,197,310 has been awarded in Affordable Housing Grants.

For more information on the CIP, including how to apply and application intake deadlines, please see the CIP webpage.

Official Plan goal

One of the Official Plan’s goals is to have at least 10% of all new residential development be affordable housing. We require developers to submit an Affordable Housing Report showing how this is addressed in their developments and continually look at ways to improve implementation of this policy.

Community benefit policy

When a development proposes greater density or height than permitted the Zoning By-law​, the City has policies that allow Planning Services to ask for community benefits. One of these benefits includes allocation of units or funds for affordable housing, allowing for funds to be used for affordable housing.  

Tax-based support for affordable rental units

The City has been an early leader in progressively reducing the tax ratio for multi-residential units by approximately 25% annually. This is a significant tax-based support that encourages residential rentals in Barrie and is now being looked at as a good policy to implement throughout Ontario.  ​

Some of the above initiatives will not be immediately felt as it takes some time for the effects of changes to be realized. 

Our Progress
965 Affordable Units as of December 31, 2021 (114.9% of 840 unit goal)

    2021

    965 affordable units total as of December 31, 2021.

    The City gained 93 affordable housing units (90 rental units and three home ownership units) in 2021.

    The largest contributor to affordable housing units is unfunded second suites (suites added to existing homes that do not receive funding support from the County of Simcoe). At the same time, municipalities have no control over regulating what these suites are rented for. Given this, the County of Simcoe has started to estimate how many of these units are actually affordable. When the estimated rate (also known as the discount rate) is applied, the total count of new affordable units created in Barrie, as of December 31, 2021, drops from 965 to 712 units.

    For full details please refer to 2021 Affordable Housing Monitoring Report​.

    2020

    872 affordable units total as of December 31, 2020.

    The City has surpassed the goal of 840 affordable housing units, due largely to the number of new unfunded second suites. Only 14% of the affordable housing units are purpose-built, primary rental units, which shows more focus is needed in this area.

    $1,777,780 in Affordable Housing Development Grants was awarded in 2020 under the City’s Community Improvement Plan for future housing units.

    For full detail please refer to Affordable Housing Monitoring Report (Reporting Period: January 2018 to December 2020).

    2019

    768 affordable units total as of December 31, 2019. This is comprised of 48 affordable homeownership units and 720 rental units (including 455 second suites).

    2018    

    575 affordable units total as of December 31, 2018. This is comprised of 43 affordable homeownership units and 532 rental units (including 294 second suites).

    2017
    2016
    2015
    • Introduced the Built Form Task Force (BFTF) consisting of City staff, housing provider representatives, developers and other stakeholders
    • Amended existing Second Suites By-law to increase affordable rental properties in existing and newly developing areas
    Last updated April 9, 2021. Affordable housing units are counted when they are move-in ready. Units counted include those that the City can be certain will remain affordable over
    time such as social housing units, housing created with government funding, units
    owned or operated by housing providers, and a percent of second suites.

    Highlighted Council Motions Related to Affordable Housing

    June 2022

    AFFORDABLE HOUSING MONITORING REPORT 2021

    Council approved the following:

    That Council accept, in principle, the Affordable Housing Monitoring Report and Affordable Housing Strategy Report Card, attached as Appendix “A” and Appendix “B” to Staff Report DEV015-22 respectively. (DEV015-22)

    February 2022

    PROPOSED CITY OF BARRIE OFFICIAL PLAN AND MUNICIPAL COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW - AFFORDABLE HOUSING

    STAFF MEMORANDUM RE: HOUSING AFFORDABILITY TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS

    Council approved the following:

    Councillor, S. Morales declared a potential pecuniary interest on the foregoing matter as he and members of his family could be financially impacted in the future. He did not participate or vote on the foregoing matter. He left the virtual Planning Committee meeting.

    That the proposed City of Barrie Official Plan 2051, provided as Appendix “A” to Staff Report DEV001-22, be amended by replacing the following sections:

    6.4.2 Affordable Housing e) iv) All new residential development and redevelopment in Medium Density and High Density land use designations shall provide 15% of their housing units as affordable, in accordance with policy 2.5(l), unless a greater percentage is required as per the applicable policies in Section 2.3, across a range of unit sizes, including three-bedroom units or larger; and,

    2.5 General Land Use Policies I) The City will require the provision of a minimum of 15% of all new housing units each year to be affordable housing, as per the policies in Section 6.4.2 of this Plan. The City will be guided by provincial direction and the City’s Affordable Housing Strategy to implement this affordable housing target.

    January 2022

    HOUSING AFFORDABILITY TASK FORCE

     Council adopted the following:

    1. That the recommendations of the Housing Affordability Task Force Report dated January 10, 2022 be supported in principle.

    2. That staff in the Development Services and Building Departments, and Mayor’s Office report back to General Committee by February 14, 2022 via memo with intended timelines and resource requests associated with implementing the Housing Affordability Task Force recommendations, if any.

    3. That staff in the Development Services Department be authorized to apply to the Federal Housing Accelerator Fund or any other funding opportunities for a grant to resource and support the recommendations within the Housing Affordability Task Force Report dated January 10, 2022, as soon as possible.

    4. That the Housing Affordability Task Force recommendation to hire a dedicated position in the Development Services Department to expand and oversee all housing affordability initiatives be actioned immediately, with funding for the position to be provided from the Reinvestment Reserve if grant funding is not received.

    5. That the Housing Affordability Task Force recommendation to allocate funding from the Reinvestment Reserve to a new Supportive Housing Fund in 2022 and potential supportive housing projects be subject to an in-camera Council discussion concerning potential supportive housing projects, to be scheduled on or before January 31, 2022, and conditional as well on support from the County of Simcoe.

    6. That, in the interest of creating more subsidized housing in the City of Barrie, the County of Simcoe be requested to examine the potential for increased density for the proposed Simcoe County Housing Corporation (SCHC) project at the former OPP Station site at Rose Street/Highway 400.

    7. That a one-time grant of $20,000 funded from the Reinvestment Reserve be provided to the County of Simcoe through the John Howard Society of Simcoe Muskoka to fund additional overnight warming capacity in the City of Barrie, and that the County of Simcoe be requested to match this funding.

    8. That the City open a warming only facility, when an extreme cold weather alert is issued by Environment Canada or the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach -20°C for at least two (2) hours. (Item for Discussion 8.3, January 10, 2022)

    October 2021

    CITY-WIDE AMENDMENT TO COMPREHENSIVE ZONING BY-LAW 2009-141 FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING 

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION MEMORANDUM

    Council approved the following:

    1. That the proposed City initiated amendment to Zoning By-law 2009-141 outlined in Appendix “A” to Staff Report DEV021-21 be approved with the following amendments:

    • a) Revise Table 5.2.9.2 in Section 5.2.9.2 a) to require a minimum rear yard setback of 7.0 metres to an accessory building or structure containing a detached accessory dwelling unit;
    • b) Add a new provision under Section 5.2.9.2 that states a detached accessory dwelling unit is not permitted to have a basement;
    • c) Add a new provision under Section 8.3.7.1 that states that notwithstanding the Institutional standards in Table 8.3 when residential uses are located in the same building as an institutional use on a lot zoned Institutional, a maximum lot coverage of 50% shall be permitted; and
    • d) Add a new provision under Section 8.3.7.2 that states that notwithstanding the Institutional standards in Table 8.3 when residential uses are located on the same lot as institutional uses on a lot zoned Institutional, a maximum lot coverage of 50% shall be permitted.

    2. That the proposed amendment to Site Plan Control By-law 99-312 be approved as outlined in Appendix “B” to Staff Report DEV021-21.

    3. That Fees By-law 2021-020 be updated to include a new application fee of $307.77 under Schedule K, Section 11 for scoped site plan review of detached accessory dwelling units.

    4. That the proposed amendment to the Second Suites Registration By-law 2020-010 be approved as outlined in Appendix “C” to Staff Report DEV021-21.

    5. That the written and oral submissions received relating to the application, have been, on balance, taken into consideration as part of the deliberations and final decision related to the approval of the Zoning By-law Amendment, as amended, including matters raised in the submissions and identified within Staff Report DEV021-21.

    6. That, in accordance with Section 34(17) of the Planning Act, no further public meeting is required to finalize the proposed by-law.

    7. That staff in the Development Services Department prepare a revised map indicating eligible properties for detached accessory dwelling units by the October 4, 2021 City Council meeting. (DEV021-21) (File: D30-007-2021)

    COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT PLAN GRANT APPROVALS SUMMARY - FEBRUARY TO MAY 2021

    Council approved the following:

    1. That Staff Report DEV019-21 regarding the status of the Community Improvement Plan (CIP) Grant Program be received for information purposes.

    2. That 50 percent of the funds from the current balance associated with allocations for redevelopment and preservation of built heritage grant programs within the CIP Reserve be reallocated to the Affordable Housing Grant Program, to replenish the balance and continue funding development charges and per door grants for affordable housing projects in 2021. (DEV019-21) (File: F11-CIP)

    August 2021

    QUICK START FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECTS ON INSTITUTIONAL LANDS

     Council approved the following:

    1. That the Development Services Department, supported by the Affordable Housing Task Force, write to all owners of institutionally designated properties in Barrie indicating the intention to allow housing as-of-right on their properties, and inviting them to contact the City to discuss the potential for the construction of affordable housing on their properties and that the Affordable Housing Task Force report back to Council on success of the program in encouraging applications from interested property owners by December, 2021 and further contact places of worship designated residential with the potential developable lands for the same purpose.

    2. That once projects are determined, staff in the Development Services Department seek proposals from consultants in accordance with the Procurement By-law to conduct feasibility studies for affordable housing projects on institutionally and residential designated properties owned by non-profit or charitable organizations to be funded by the Community Benefit Reserve for a total of up to 10 studies at a cost of up to $20,000 each.

    3. That staff in the Development Services Department report back to Council by way of a memorandum of other ways to potentially provide financial incentives to institutions providing housing, including the discounting of development charges partial or complete, and other ways of reducing application fees and soft costs. (Item for Discussion 8.1, August 9, 2021)

    REDWOOD PARK COMMUNITIES GRANT APPLICATIONS TO THE CANADA MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION

    Council approved the following:

    WHEREAS there is a significant need in the City of Barrie to provide additional supportive and social housing for people facing and experiencing homelessness; and

    WHEREAS Redwood Park Communities has a strong track record of involvement with social housing in the City of Barrie; and

    WHEREAS Redwood Park Communities has applied for grant funding for two housing projects in the City of Barrie from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation; and

    WHEREAS the Barrie City Council adopted motion 21-G-188 to provide an interest free loan up to $3,000,000 with conditions, including the loan being subject to approval of application for grant funding by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, for the two housing projects that Redwood Park Communities intends to commence in Barrie.

    NOW THERFORE BE IT RESOLVED as follows:

    1. That the City of Barrie strongly urges Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation to approve the grant applications submitted by Redwood Park Communities to provide funding for both their projects in the City of Barrie at the earliest opportunity.

    2. That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the County of Simcoe, Doug Shipley MP, John Brassard MP, Ahmed Hussen MP, Adam Vaughan MP, Andrea Khanjin MPP, and Doug Downey MPP. (Item for Discussion 8.2, August 9, 2021) Sponsor: Councillor, C. Riepma

    June 2021    

    INTERIM CONSTRUCTION FINANCING - REDWOOD PARK COMMUNITIES

    Watch the discussion of General Committee

    Council approved the following:

    1. That the City of Barrie provide an interest-free loan of up to $3 million, with $1 million to be released in the interim, and the release of any further funds being revisited by General Committee at their meeting scheduled to be held August 9 2020 for the purpose of construction financing to Redwood Park Communities over a period of two years for supportive housing projects in the City of Barrie and that the loan be subject to funding approval for the projects from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
    2. That on a best effort basis the City’s Treasurer will release money in increments toward supportive housing projects approved by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and that all draws of the money be for construction costs and no operation costs of Redwood Park Community salaries all draws must be supported with construction invoicing.
    3. That Redwood Park Communities provide a monthly report to the City outlining the construction scheduling, costs and documentation to support all draws being made for construction expenditures associated to the supportive housing projects. 
    4. That the loan be fully repaid to the City by June 30, 2023, and the Director of Legal Services and Director of Finance/City Treasurer be delegated authority to enter into a loan agreement with Redwood Park Communities. (Item for Discussion 8.7, June 21, 2021)
    April 2021

    AFFORDABLE HOUSING MONITORING REPORT 2018, 2019 AND 2020

    Council approved the following:

    1. That staff in the Development Services Department be directed to complete the following:

      a) Review of the City’s current Affordable Housing Strategy, prepare a report card, and report back to General Committee with any recommended interim updates to the Strategy;

      b) Participate in and provide technical support (mapping, feasibility, expertise, etc.) to the Affordable Housing Task Force to aggressively expand the supply of affordable housing with the particular emphasis on addressing the hardest to house;

      c) Develop a policy and mechanism for collecting cash contributions in lieu of affordable housing units in development applications and report back to General Committee; and

      d) Begin the public engagement process and schedule a statutory public meeting in accordance with the Planning Act to initiate the process for considering the following amendments to the City’s Comprehensive Zoning By-law 2009-141, as amended:
      • Review standards for second suites and detached accessory dwelling units;
      • Review standards for minimum dwelling unit floor area requirements in all zones, as well as opportunities for permitting tiny homes; and
      • Consider amendments to Section 4.4 Non-Conforming Uses to include provisions allowing the conversion of existing non-conforming buildings to affordable housing.
    2. That all applicable City of Barrie fees, including the Planning and Building Services application fees and associated legal and administrative fees for qualifying affordable housing projects be waived, as of January 1, 2021. (DEV011-21)
    March 2021

    ZONING BY-LAW AMENDMENT APPLICATION - CORAL SOPHIA LANE HOUSING INC. - 113 AND 117 BAYFIELD STREET AND 6, 8, 10 AND 12 SOPHIA STREET EAST (WARD 2)

    Council approved an Amendment to the Zoning By-law application to rezone lands to allow a proposed development at 113 & 117 Bayfield St and 6, 8 & 12 Sophia St E. The proposed development would result in the creation of 70 Affordable Housing Units.

    AFFORDABLE HOUSING TASK FORCE 

    Council approved a motion that included the establishment of an Affordable Housing Task Force. The task force will be mandated to report to General Committee by the end of 2021 with a plan to co-ordinate County, City, and charitable/not-for-profit housing projects and policies, to aggressively expand the supply of affordable housing, with particular emphasis on addressing the hardest to house. The task force will be comprised of interested members of Council, stakeholder organizations from the downtown, cultural, and housing communities as identified by the Chairs, and staff as identified by the Chief Administrative Officer and/or the Executive Management Team. The task force will provide updates via memorandum to Council in June, 2021 and September, 2021. 

    January 2021   

    MODULAR SUPPORTIVE HOUSING PROJECT - VESPRA STREET

    Council approved a motion that a Capital Project be added to the 2021 Capital Plan entitled “Modular Supportive Housing Project - Vespra Street” with funding of $3 million (inclusive of the $500,000 estimated to be required for soil remediation).

    Council also directed that staff in the Corporate Facilities, Development Services and Legal Services Departments in consultation with the County of Simcoe issue a call for proposals for a service provider to construct and manage the build and operate the housing units, and that staff report back to the General Committee with the results of the proposals received.

    December 2020

    SUPPORT FOR THE REDWOOD PARK COMMUNITIES APPLICATION TO THE CANADA MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION - RAPID HOUSING INITIATIVE

    In December 2020, Council endorsed their support of the applications made by the County of Simcoe and by Redwood Park Communities for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) funding that addresses urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians. These submissions are currently being reviewed by CMHC.

    June 2020

    AFFORDABLE HOUSING ON SURPLUS CITY OWNED PROPERTIES - NEXT STEPS TO BE TAKEN (WARD 2)

    Council approved a motion that the Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment and Geotechnical Review completed by WSP Canada Inc. Staff were also directed to engage with social and non-profit housing providers, and report
    back to General Committee with the results of the consultation and recommend the next steps to be taken to dispose of the Subject Properties to a Housing Provider for the creation of affordable housing.

    January 2020

    PROPOSED OFFICIAL PLAN AMENDMENT AND ZONING BY-LAW AMENDMENT: SECOND SUITES PERMISSIONS IN THE GEORGIAN NEIGHBOURHOOD STUDY BOUNDARY AREA (WARDS 1, 2 AND 3)

    In January 2020, Council passed By-law Number 2020-017 (OPA No. 072) & By-law Number 2020-018 to lift the restriction on second suites in the Georgian College Neighbourhood Study Boundary Area.

    November 2019

    CITY INITIATED AMENDMENTS TO COMPREHENSIVE ZONING BY-LAW 2009-141

    In November 2019, Council approved By-law Number 2019-115 which amended the Zoning By-law and made it easier to build a second suite and provide other forms of affordable housing by:

    • Permitting both a second suite and a detached accessory dwelling unit in the R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, RM1, RM2, RM3, and RM2-TH zones (subject to Section 5.2.9 of the Zoning By-law)
    • Eliminating the maximum number of bedrooms permitted in a second suite; however, second suites still must be smaller than the principle dwelling unit.
    • Reducing the minimum required gross floor area of a second suite to 35m2.
    • Eliminating the minimum separation distance that was previously required between Group Homes
    • Updating parking standards for residential buildings containing not more than 3 units so that they are based on the number of dwelling units, not the number of tenants
    • Revising the minimum standards for a dwelling unit that prevented it from being rented to more than 4 tenants
    May 2019

    SURPLUSSING OF CITY OWNED PROPERTIES FOR THE CREATION OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING - 65 VESPRA STREET AND 70 AND 72 VICTORIA STREET (WARD 2)

    Council approved a motion that 65 Vespra Street and 70 & 72 Victoria Street be declared surplus to the needs of The Corporation of the City of Barrie, that the environmental studies and related work necessary to determine the development potential of the subject properties be undertaken, and that staff be directed to develop terms for a public tender process subsequent to the completion of the environmental studies.

    Last updated: June 28, 2021

    "Affordable Housing" Defined

    Affordable housing encompasses a range of housing types allowing all residents to find suitable living space without spending a disproportionate percentage of their income. It can include ownership, rental or social housing.

    Affordable Housing is defined by the Provincial Policy Statement as well as the City’s Official Plan as:

    • In the case of home ownership, the least expensive of:
      • housing for which the purchase price results in annual accommodation costs which do not exceed 30% of gross income for low to moderate income households; or
      • housing for which the purchase price is at least 10% below the average purchase price of a resale unit in the regional market area.
    • In the case of rental housing, the least expensive of
      • a unit for which the rent does not exceed 30% of gross annual income for low to moderate income households; or
      • a unit for which rent is at or below the average market rent of a unit within the regional market area.

    Affordable housing is a complex and multi-faceted issue. No single level of government or element is the cause or can be held responsible for the solution. It is all of our collective efforts that will generate results.

    Affordable Housing Means a Thriving Future

    Housing is a basic and fundamental need. Access to safe, affordable and adequate housing promotes: 

    Health & Well Being

    Housing is an essential factor for health and wellness. Research shows that people who experience stable, secure and affordable housing are better able to manage their health situations for positive outcomes. Though everyone experiences the same spectrum of illness, the severity and frequency of illness in people who are homeless is much higher. Stability and affordability of housing helps people maintain the level of care they need through the ability to purchase healthier foods, follow a prescribed diet, attend follow-up medical appointments and manage medications.

    Community Engagement

    Having a home increases a resident’s opportunity to participate in the social and economic fabric of our community. Access to needed health and social services, ability to fully participate in the work force and even influence the decisions made by various levels of governments all become a possibility.

    Educational Success

    Affordable housing has a long-lasting impact on our city’s future success by building a strong foundation of education in our youth. Research shows a correlation between poor quality housing and the ability to focus at school, which has many negative impacts for children: increased stress, frequent absenteeism and lack of participation all lead to poor academic performance.

    Sustained Economic Health

    Affordable housing is closely linked to economic status. For instance, Barrie is a tourist destination with an abundance of winter and summer activities, making it an important source for economic stability. However, people working within this sector often earn minimum wage. Lack of affordable living options for people earning minimum wage puts our tourism and hospitality sector at risk.

    Affordable housing affects more than the hospitality industry. Barrie is constantly aiming to diversify its labour market by introducing more industry and economic opportunity. Both labour and housing availability are key considerations in business location decisions. Businesses need a ready labour supply to function, yet there must be affordable housing options for labourers moving to work for that business.

    Personal & Public Safety

    Creating affordable housing for our citizens will foster a sense of personal and public safety. Spending too much of one’s income on housing means less money for basic needs like food and clothing. To make up for the shortfall, some people may turn to petty theft, public begging and even prostitution. More affordable housing options would minimize the risk of these broader social issues.

    Community Vitality

    Affordable housing creates a more inclusive environment for everyone regardless of age, sex, income level, ability, socio/economic standing, family type or national origin.

    For full details please see the County of Simcoe's Our Community 10 Year Affordable Housing and Homeless Prevention Strategy.

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