We don’t need big government to solve every part of our housing crisis
A graduate of the University of Toronto, Trevor Hutchinson is a songwriter, writer and bookkeeper. He serves as Contributing Editor at The Lindsay Advocate. He lives with his fiancee and their five kids in Lindsay.
In a great social media post last month MP Jamie Schmale mentioned meeting Stacey and Al Robinson, owners of Great Canadian RV in Fowler’s Corners. The Robinson’s have designed an all-weather trailer that could be used to address different dimensions of the housing crisis.
This is just one great example of how we could use local existing infrastructure and workforce to solve a problem locally.
Trailer manufacturing was at one time one of our biggest manufacturing products in our city. There are hundreds of people, still in their working years, with experience in different trades. Which means there is an existing older workforce who could train a younger workforce.
The housing problem is complex, and no one solution or product will solve it. The use of trailers might work for some people in some situations. Tiny homes (which by Ontario building code must be at least 188 sq feet) might be another option for others. The tiny house movement is a growing phenomenon world-wide. Some Ontario cities, like Kitchener-Waterloo and Kingston are embracing the concept to address homelessness. In Peterborough, a tiny home community is being built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and this local tiny home movement will eventually have 30 units.
This is more than just a short-term solution for homelessness, though. For some it is a way to live a minimalist lifestyle. For others it is the only affordable way to have a place that they can own.
Imagine how many companies and self-employed entrepreneurs in our city could contribute to building tiny homes. Not in five years or ten years, but right now.
And it’s not like we don’t have the land. It won’t make any big developer rich, but that’s kind of the idea.
So we have the workforce, land and any number of companies to take action on this now in several ways.
But what about building codes, infrastructure and municipal regulations? To be sure there would be some complicated issues to work out. But that’s why we pay our top civil servants the big bucks – not to find a reason to say no, but to find creative solutions to local problems.
Many other cities in Canada and around the world have figured this out. We wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel. We have everything we need to creatively address a range of local problems that would also benefit local business and entrepreneurs. This doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be a big government thing. We don’t even need the Poverty Industrial Complex.
In fact, it should be the opposite: small companies and entrepreneurs, guided by a creative municipal framework, solving problems, creating employment, giving agency to citizens and eventually exporting our knowledge to other cities facing the same challenges.