Skip to content

Unlocking growth: Essa commits to building 1,700 new homes by 2031

Township council also applying for $11.25-million grant to expand and upgrade Angus water system
Essa Township has sent a housing pledge letter to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing committing to more than 1,700 homes by 2031.

Essa Township is doing its part to ease the provincial housing crisis.

Even though the township was never given a municipal housing target by the provincial government, Essa officials have decided they’re going to be a part of the solution.

On Wednesday night, Essa council authorized Mayor Sandie Macdonald to sign the township's housing pledge letter and the clerk to forward it to Paul Calandra, the minister of municipal affairs and housing.

Lisa Lehr, manager of legislative services and municipal clerk for Essa Township, confirmed the letter was sent to the ministry Thursday morning.

Essa has committed to achieving its forecasted growth of 1,717 units by 2031

“In recent years, the Township of Essa has embraced residential development and undertaken the necessary steps to ensure a healthy supply of residential housing units are in the development track and continuously plans for the overall growth of the township and new residents,” said Michael Mikael, Essa’s chief administrative officer in his report to council requesting authorization for the mayor’s signature.

“The township has also undertaken many organizational shifts, process improvements and commitments to new and expanded infrastructure to support growth," he added. 

Mikael said Essa's council has supported several programs, including funding of operating and capital budgets, process improvements, delegated approval authority to staff and several projects to ensure that the township is poised not only to support growth but to be ready for it. 

“The township understands that true community building is a collaborative effort between all of those involved in the development process, from creation of policy to its implementation, through application review, and finally to construction of new homes,” Mikael said.

According to his report, residential approvals in the township have been strong over the past five years.

Since 2019, 2,404 units have been approved or are in the planning stage. Building permits have been issued for 419 units and 1,985 proposed units are remaining.

In his report. Mikael also acknowledged that there are elements of community building that are complex and not the sole responsibility of the township, such as servicing and infrastructure, which, he added, require expansion and upgrades to “unlock development and allow for growth.”

“Infrastructure has been identified as the limiting constraint to development of housing in Essa, as it is anticipated that projected growth targets can be met without the need to expand settlement boundaries,” Macdonald wrote in the letter to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. 

“Our approach to address this constraint has been through our infrastructure master plan to proactively identify and develop a technical framework for resolution of capacity constraints," the mayor added. "Essa is now exploring funding opportunities to expedite the implementation of these technical solutions. The continued co-ordination of infrastructure delivery is fundamental to meet the province's housing target."

Through the implementation of the municipal housing pledge, Mikael said, additional infrastructure projects and/or changes to capital plan timing-fund allocation will be required to support residential growth. 

These infrastructure challenges and limitations, he added, were presented to council for consideration during the implementation/adoption of the infrastructure master plan and transportation master plan, which will form a part of future years' budgets. 

While municipal servicing has been identified as the limiting constraint to development of housing in Essa, Mikael said in his report that the province has shown correlation between housing targets and provincial funding opportunities for growth related costs such as the Ontario's Building Faster Fund (BFF) and the Housing-Enabling Water Systems Fund (HEWSF).

Council endorsed the submission of the provincial grant application under the HEWSF in the amount of $11.25 million, including 25 per cent contingency and 27 per cent municipal contribution, to expand and upgrade the Angus water system to overcome this key barrier to meet the municipal housing target by 2031.

Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Wayne Doyle covers the townships of Springwater, Oro-Medonte and Essa for BarrieToday under the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI), which is funded by the Government of Canada
Read more

Reader Feedback