I picked my campaign theme, Innovate Belleville, not just because of my belief of diversified economic development and amplifying the work we have done with QuinteVation and rural innovation in Belleville, but because innovation also means a refresh and relook at how we do things at city hall including customer service, a look at affordable housing, and second units or granny suites.
Innovation for customer service, as I’ve wrote about in another blog, means that we reemphasize the term ‘Public Servant’ in Belleville.
If elected, I promise to make sure you, the taxpayers, are treated with the utmost respect. Phone calls are to be returned, you are to be treated as a customer, and city hall will strive to improve how it interacts with you.
It’s part of the lack of public servitude that I’m hearing at doors when it comes to the issue of second units or Granny Suites, basement apartments with kitchens in the city.
In 2016, a bylaw was passed that disallowed these units in the city. When this was challenged, staff were directed to make a report but essential nothing changed. Apparently in late 2017, the province changed the building code to make these units allowed across the province, yet there has been nothing communicated as of yet from the city on the matter.
As I have been talking to residents as I have been canvassing the city, secondary units or Granny Suites can immediately help alleviate the shortage we have with affordable rental units in the city. These units also provide much needed revenue to some city residents, they can allow families keep their aging loved ones living independently yet within close proximity to provide care daily when needed, and it can also be a cultural need whether it be for cooking purposes or for families that live in multigenerational homes.
Innovation for housing in this city means not only should we be communicating the city’s strategy on these units, we should be actively encouraging our citizens to build them as a short-term solution to create more units in the city.
An innovative way to spur growth of these units is to offer incentives. Waterloo offers $25,000 loans for secondary units that are payable over 15 years as long as rents are at a maximum of $585 a month.
We should look at creating, communicating, and marketing this strategy as we look at the housing crisis, and ways to which we can innovate Belleville.
Innovation will include multiple ways in which change will come to you, the taxpayer, and I look forward to working on more of this should I earn you vote.