- by Kaitlyn Dickinson

“It’s sad. My boyfriend and I were all ready to buy this past year, put offers in well over asking price on homes that honestly were already over priced. Needless to say we had no offers accepted and can’t find somewhere to live now. My poor mother is stuck with her basement serving as our apartment while we look at more affordable homes out east. I have to leave a job I love and move with my newborn away from family so we can live comfortably financially. It’s sad… and we have decent paying jobs so I can’t imagine how any hard working person making closer to minimum wage survives.” -Facebook comment from a Teacher at the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board

whatdoesitcostWith the average price of homes reaching over $600 000 last month, (a 54% increase from last year, thanks to migration from larger city centres) it is no surprise that housing is virtually unaffordable to many local Grey-Bruce residents. Not only is the cost of purchasing a home unaffordable, but a recent graphic from the United Way shows the average rental cost of a bachelor apartment to be $1200 in Grey-Bruce, while a two bedroom would set the renter back $2000 per month.

Why then, did the City of Owen Sound spend $75,000 on an advertising campaign targeting out of town home buyers, that included a video of City Councillors sporting pyjamas downtown, calling our city the “Work From Home Capital of Canada"?

And even worse, why is the City endorsing out of town investors, like BG Wealth Group, who on their website, boasted about their purchase of rental units that were previously affordable and have now doubled in rent?. City staff even appear in a BG Wealth Group video, filmed in City Hall and sporting the City logo, encouraging others to invest in our town. Not only do these out of town investors not contribute to the local economy as residents; the financial strain they have caused for Owen Sound citizens, who can barely afford to pay rent, ensures that renters will spend less in our already struggling local businesses.

A grassroots campaign was initiated on March 22nd, called “Can’t Find a Home Capital of Canada.” The focus of the group will be to draw attention to the local housing crisis and encourage the City to prioritize housing for our local citizens, instead of encouraging what is essentially the gentrification of our community. The group will be initiating a letter writing campaign and is looking for volunteers. More information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/cantfindahomecapitalofcanada/,
Or inquiries may be sent by e-mail to [email protected]

To further exemplify the disparity between the City’s campaign and the actual needs of its citizens, one only needs to look to the City of Owen Sound’s 2bdrmrentcitieswebsite, which displays information from 2016, when the average cost of a home was $220 000.

Along with this out of date information, the city’s website refers to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation website (CMHC), regarding average residential rental rates. No current information exists on the CMHC website for Owen Sound. Data does exist for other larger city centres though, and unsurprisingly, Owen Sound’s average rental cost for a two bedroom, as reported by the United Way, is comparable and in most cases, higher than in much bigger cities.

It is understandable that the City wants to support economic growth, but considering it seems to be happening organically, to the detriment of local residents, the “Work From Home Capital of Canada,” initiative seems quite out of touch. Besides, economic growth is only good when it is sustainable.

Kaitlyn Dickinson is currently studying Equity, Diversity, and Human Rights at Laurentian University


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