County taking action in response to Housing Affordability Challenges

A key strategic priority of Bruce County’s new Community Development Office is to increase housing options and encourage innovative housing solutions. This work on housing is undertaken by a cross-functional, multi-disciplinary team with County representatives from land use planning, economic development, housing and homelessness services, the Intergovernmental Office, and the Office of the CAO. County Staff work together to tackle the complex issue of housing from different perspectives.

The cost of housing has risen sharply over the past 10 years. The latest data is showing that the average sale price of a residential property in Bruce County was $685,126 (December 2023), and the average cost of rental housing in Bruce County at just over $2,200 per month. Based on residential average purchase price and market rent, the data indicates only those households earning the highest incomes can afford housing in the County.

“We clearly see that housing supply and affordability is not just a challenge in Bruce County, but right across Ontario and Canada. Through the work of the Community Development Office, we will advocate for Bruce County’s housing needs at a provincial and federal level. Viable solutions to create affordable housing require all three levels of government to work together to help the private market, the not-for-profit sectors, and the County to provide affordable housing solutions for low- and medium-income households,” said Bruce County Warden Chris Peabody.

Housing is considered affordable where the cost to acquire housing is no greater than 30% of gross annual household income for low- and medium- income households. In order to be considered affordable in 2023/2024, housing units below $399,100 for ownership and $1,324 per month for rental are needed in Bruce County. The Bruce County Development Charges By-law that has recently taken effect includes exemptions for affordable housing and rental housing, to prioritize the construction of these much-needed housing types.

Bruce County Housing Services projects to support 2,853 individuals or households in 2024, which is a projected increase of 515 individuals or households from 2023. Housing Services focuses on supporting households and individuals with low-incomes who are experiencing housing instability and homelessness through key investments, including emergency shelter support, a transitional housing pilot, homelessness prevention, housing stability support, subsidies for community housing providers, residential subsidies, and incentives for new Additional Rental Units that offer affordable rates. Read more about Housing Services in Bruce County.

Bruce County Planning Services and member municipalities have been focused on increasing the supply of housing, giving final approval to over 3,100 residential units/lots over the past 4 years. Based on average building rates of 450 building permits per year across the County, these recent approvals on applications brought forward by private developers represent approximately a 7-year supply of inventory of housing. Trends show that there is an increase in the number of multi-unit, medium, and high density developments, with many of these units proposed to increase the supply of rental housing in the County. Read more about Planning Services.

Community Development Office Commissioner Claire Dodds adds, “Along with recent actions, like the creation of the Affordable Housing Toolkit, the Demographic Housing Study, and the updating of the 2019-2023 Housing and Homelessness Plan, Bruce County will create a Housing Action plan that will focus on increasing housing options for residents at all income levels. The action plan will guide the work of the Community Development Office on housing through 2024-2025.”