Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Thoughts on Short Term Accommodations & Affordable Housing

Dear Editor,

A soliloquy, if I may, on the matter of short term accommodation in Meaford.

Housing and in particular housing affordability has been a very hot topic in local discussion of recent weeks. Questions around how to house those that work in vital roles in our community that are falling further and further from the affordability threshold in Grey County and beyond. There are a number of key drivers for the recent rise in prices in our are: direct factors like housing supply, material and labour costs, as well as federal factors like interest rates, the steep population increases in our big cities, and the large migrations to our municipality – accelerated over COVID-19 – enabled a change in working arrangements and lifestyles. This increase in local population is surely only to increase with any developments around the pumped storage plant or indeed the “Toronto Excellence College” planned for Eliza St.

A quick bullet we can perhaps fire here is to look to legislatively repurpose any short term accommodation we have in the municipality to either long term rentals or the open market if the aforementioned is not viable for the current landlords. This increases our rental stock and potentially the number of for sale listings in the area. Seems to tick a number of the boxes identified in my opening paragraph.

Perhaps taking a step back however it leads to more questions – largely based around what we want for our little town. The transformation of Sykes in recent years to host an array of shops, bars and restaurants, not to mention a revitalized Meaford Hall and the ongoing popularity of our local Knights hockey team has made Meaford quite the destination, both for living and for tourism – part of our problem. I haven’t even mentioned the waterfront yet, nor the array of festivals we have going on year round. More people now want to live in and visit Meaford. A quick search on the internet shows somewhat limited options for accommodation in terms of local hotels and guest houses. If we take away short term rentals then where are the visitors who shop, dine and are entertained in our downtown going to stay, and will those businesses be able to sustain themselves solely off the local population base as opposed to that plus a stream of year round visitors?

There’s a catch-22 in all of this – we want to maintain a vibrant downtown, this in turn requires just the sort of service workers who would benefit from a fresh supply of housing onto the market. Accommodation, however, is also essential to the visitors to Meaford who will help to keep the stream of new businesses in our town operating with a healthy margin for the long term.

I hope the council considers the whole picture when making any calls here.

Keith Hargreaves, Meaford

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