Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In

Skip Navigation LinksAffordable-Housing Affordable Housing

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. 

Proposed Amendments to the Zoning By-Law

The City of Barrie is considering 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.

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.

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.

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 easily. 

This initiative also results in an increased supply of housing which increases the vacancy rate and results in lower rental costs (supply goes up, demand goes down). Simcoe County is helping with this initiative by offering grants to eligible property owners encouraging them to add second suites to their properties. The City has improved this process by having fewer zoning requirements and has streamlined the process ​to create second suites.

Affordable rental unit grants
The City has had multiple applications for the Affordable Housing Development Grant Program under the CIP and in 2020, awarded $1,777,780 in total towards future development.

 
The first CIP application intake period for 2021 is currently open, and applications will be accepted until May 15, 2021.
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 a 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 City by-laws, 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
872 Affordable Units as of December 31, 2020 (103.8% of 840 unit goal)

    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

    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: April 13, 2021. The listed motions were adopted within one year of the last updated date.

    "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.

    Looks like your screen is a bit too small

    The page you are attempting to view is not currently compatible with the dimensions of your device. Please visit this page on a larger screen.