Urban planning students tackle Muskoka housing issue

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By Michael Duncan

A fourth year project on affordable housing by 10 Ryerson urban planning students has grown to a broad report delivered to and utilized by the Muskoka city council.

What began as the group’s major studio project soon grew to the report, Moving Towards Sustainable Housing in Muskoka, which has been embraced by the district.

The report was delivered to the district’s city councilors and citizens this past Thursday.

“The term attainable housing is used in Muskoka specifically because it encompasses their needs and the term affordable housing is usually associated with a negative connotation or negative stigma,” said Mario Veltri, a fourth year urban planning student and the group’s project manager.

Seven out of the 10 group members were able to attend the presentation and deliver their report, which included three main sections being, policy and planning, governance, and operational financing.

“I think it will help to raise awareness of the issue in the area, and in the public meeting there was a question and answer

period after our presentation and people were quite enthusiastic and spirited about the issue,” said Cody Spencer, a group member who focused on researching public consultation processes.

The group began the project in September and chose to focus on attainable housing after attending the Muskoka district’s Housing for Everyone forum.

“We got a great response from them and they really enjoyed all of our findings, they really enjoyed the project as a whole and fortunately we were able to have the majority of the group there,” said Veltri about the presentation.

The group’s report can now be viewed on the District of Muskoka’s website, an accomplishment cited by the group as a sign the district has endorsed their work.“We only got positive feedback and on top of that we received a lot of media attention in Muskoka,” said Veltri.

“It was a bigger project than we had anticipated and we weren’t anticipating so much attention… and they need to really push forward and address the issue.”

Photo: Marta Iwanek

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