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Barrie mayor urges action to address housing affordability crisis after shocking presentation

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Barrie city councillors got a shocking but not surprising reality check into the affordability challenges facing many residents looking to put a roof over their heads.

On Wednesday evening, councillors were given a presentation by the firm leading the city's Housing Needs Assessment. Phase One of the three-phase project is complete, focussing on collecting the data showcasing the affordability crisis in the city's housing market.

"If the current situation had been around when I was a kid, would I have had a place to live? The answer is probably no, and so we need to take the bull by the horns on this," Mayor Alex Nuttall said to CTV News. "I think the city needs to come to the table on policy to make it easier to build, understanding what the effects are of our policies on the development and building sector and how we can remove some of the barriers that are in place."

Amongst the presentation's key findings were the limited options in the market for moderate and low-income households for both ownership and rental properties as well as the limited supply of rentals available.

Over the last 20 years, the city has only added 350 net new units to its rental supply.

"The next time we have this presentation, there need to be solutions," the mayor said during Wednesday's meeting.

The project will now shift to phase two, focusing on action and implementation. The mayor said he hopes to have the project completed by the end of 2023 so councillors can consider the findings and recommendations as it plans the 2024 budget.

Councillors were also briefed on the County of Simcoe's Homelessness Prevention Strategy and an update from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit as it recovers from pressures forced by the pandemic.

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