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Ontario Green Party’s leader and PS-Muskoka candidate talk housing plans during local visit

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The Ontario Greens’ leader and local candidate are highlighting their party’s plan to tackle the affordable housing crisis in the region.

In a visit to a Parry Sound non-profit housing provider on Tuesday, Mike Schreiner, Party leader and MPP for Guelph, and Matt Richter, the Green’s candidate for Parry Sound Muskoka, met with the residents and talked about solutions to the housing crisis. Schreiner called the Sound Community Hub an excellent example of how an existing community asset like a school can be repurposed to build affordable housing for people. Richter added the Hub is one example of so many different strategies that he’s proud to take across our riding to address the affordable housing crisis. 

“The proliferation of projects like this that could be happening with the correct political policy and the political will is possible and it needs to happen sooner rather than later,” Richter said. The local candidate said the hub is able to address so many living concerns under one building, from just the cost, with units under $800 per month to several community services. 

“They’ve integrated a One Kids Place. They have the Miigwansag Daycare center, a sensory room, and a community gym. They even have a non-denominational church, the meeting house. Talk about finding a way to integrate all of that into one space. It is nothing short of outstanding and it really has set a standard that our communities need to go after and replicate.” Richter said

Schreiner said across the province, and especially in Parry Sound-Muskoka, there is a whole generation of young people wondering if they’ll ever be able to afford a home. 

“You have a number of individuals who are either unhoused or living in hotel rooms who need a permanent housing solution. It’s directly negatively affecting people’s quality of life and our economy because I talked to a number of employers who say they are having trouble attracting workers because they don’t have a place to house them that they can afford,” he said. 

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Richter, a Huntsville teacher who’s been in the Trillium Lakeland District School Board for the past 20 years, says affordable housing has been an ongoing issue that has just been exacerbated during the pandemic adding he sees young families that literally do not know where they’re going to be in half a year from now. 

“The mental health toll this puts on the students as well, where they aren’t sure what school they’re going to be going to or even School Board. It’s not a siloed problem where it’s just a housing problem. It extends across so many different areas of our way of living that shows how critical is that we do address the affordable housing crisis and get more supply.” Richter says. 

As the pair were leaving the visit, Schreiner says a local resident walked to them and showed them the bill he is paying for his monthly rent at a hotel room. He says the bill was far more than what the resident is receiving on Ontario Disability Support (ODS), adding this is just one of the reasons why he’s calling for the doubling of ODS payments.

The Greens say their Affordability Action Plan also includes making it more affordable for people to get around by halving transit fares, including Northlander buses for an initial three months, and getting Northlander passenger rail back on the tracks. The party adds it also aims to save energy and lower people’s utility bills.

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