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KINGSTON — After more than a year’s work, the report from the mayor’s task force on housing is to recommend more than 40 ways the city can help increase the availability and affordability of housing.

The report from the 12-member task force, announced by Mayor Bryan Paterson during his inaugural council address in December 2018, is to present its report to city council on Tuesday.

The task force was set up and instructed to find “evidence-informed and action-oriented observations” and assemble recommendations to city council “in order to increase and ensure the sustainability of the supply of a diverse range of housing.”

“These recommendations come at an important juncture. The housing landscape is rapidly evolving and we have an opportunity to implement strategies that are innovative, practical and will ensure we maintain healthy housing levels into the future,” Paterson said in a news release. “I look forward to carefully examining these recommendations and incorporating them into our city-wide practices.”

The task force recommendations include calls on the city to help housing organizations access federal and provincial funding, consider incentives for the creation of affordable housing, and encourage the creation of alternative kinds of housing arrangements, such as co-housing, tiny homes, co-operative housing and secondary suites.

The task force also recommends the city establish a housing working group to include the city, developers, tenants, post-secondary institutions and Canadian Forces Base Kingston to carry on the work of reaching the three per cent vacancy rate goal.

The report also called for the city to adjust its regulations, such as zoning bylaws and licensing rules, to make easier to get housing built.

The rental vacancy rate in the Kingston Census Metropolitan Area  — which includes Frontenac Islands, Loyalist and South Frontenac townships — increased to 1.9 per cent in 2019, the first increase in five years and a more than threefold increase from 2018’s record low rate of 0.6 per cent.

The addition of rental units outside the city centre and the softening demand in the downtown contributed to the increased vacancy rate.

While the availability of rental units increased, the cost of rental housing increased by 79 per cent.

The task force’s recommendations are expected to form the basis for municipal actions to address the housing shortage.

The task force was efficient, spending less than half of the $90,000 council had budgeted for its work.

“Responding to our housing affordability crisis has many paths which should be pursued,” Ted Hsu, co-chair of the task force, added. “I strongly encourage anybody interested in Kingston housing to read the whole report. Fulfilling many of the recommendations will require sustained and detailed work. It will not be checking off boxes on a list.”

The report is to be presented to city council on Tuesday evening.


Story by: The Kingston Whig