Affordable Housing Development Toolkit:
Ensuring everyone has a home starts with fostering housing diversity. In Bruce County, we need more affordable housing of all shapes and sizes. Developers and builders have a role to play in creating the kinds of homes our communities need.
Multi-residential affordable housing could include:
Ground-related affordable housing could include:
Housing Services Manager
Department: Human Services, Human Services
This Development Toolkit is focused on supporting the creation of new affordable multi-residential and ground-related housing. From higher density buildings to missing middle forms, we need more affordable rental, market rental, and affordable ownership units that serve low to moderate income households in Bruce County. For more information on housing affordability levels, see Affordable Housing 101.
Why build these forms of housing?
- These types of units can be more affordable (costing 30% or less of a household’s income) than single and semi-detached houses for both renters and owners.
- There is demand across Bruce County for more compact homes that are close to amenities, particularly in central and newly developing areas.
- These types of homes make great options for seniors looking to downsize, young professionals, as well as those moving to the County for employment.
- Building affordable or mixed-affordability projects with appropriate density can be financially beneficial to developers.
- There are opportunities to collaborate with local non-profit organizations and major employers on affordable housing developments, as well as municipal incentives and funding options to take advantage of.
- County and municipal staff generally support projects that offer affordable housing, as well as densities that efficiently use land, resources, infrastructure, and public service facilities. Furthermore, Bruce County Planning & Development and Housing Services can assist at each stage of the development process to ensure a win-win for all.
Step by Step Guide
This Step-by-Step guide contains key information on the pathways to developing affordable housing in Bruce County, focusing on multi-residential and ground-related housing forms. The guide covers five key areas of the development process: finding land, design, financing and funding, planning and approvals, and construction and pre-occupancy. It contains insights and considerations specific to the County context, as well as tools and resources to help your affordable housing project come to life.
1.1 Locating your project in Bruce County
When selecting a location for a proposed housing project, you should consider:
1.2 Where developments are permitted
In Ontario, the multi-residential property class includes property used for residential purposes with more than six self-contained units and vacant land that is zoned for multi-residential development. In Bruce County, these properties are designated as medium-to-high density. The County Official Plan currently directs multi-residential development to primary and secondary urban communities.
In the eight municipalities within Bruce County, multi-residential development is typically permitted under medium density, or zone categories ranging from R3 to R5. Although it varies by municipality, this zone category permits a range of multi-residential dwellings, including rowhouses, apartments, and townhouses that are clustered or street-facing. Residential care facilities and group homes, which provide long-term care and supportive housing options, are also permitted in multi-residential zones. The table below provides a summary of where multi-residential developments are permitted across municipalities and the appropriate zone categories.
In Bruce County, ground-related housing forms like duplexes, triplexes, and rowhouses – often deemed to be “missing middle” housing types – may be built in areas designated as low-to-medium density in the County Official Plan. The County Official Plan also directs multiple unit ground-related developments to primary and secondary urban communities.
In the eight municipalities within Bruce County, multiple unit ground-related development is typically permitted in zone categories ranging from R2 to R3. Although it varies by municipality, these zone categories permit a range of dwellings containing multiple units, which may overlap with some multi-residential typologies. Low-rise apartments that are less than three stories in height, as well as residential care facilities and group homes may also be permitted in low density multiple zones. The table below provides a summary of where multiple unit ground-related developments are permitted by municipality and the appropriate zone categories.
Other ways to develop multi-residential and ground-related housing in Bruce County include
1.3 Where to find land
It can take some creativity to locate land for the development of multi-residential or ground-related housing. The local Planning Hubs can help developers evaluate the development potential of a particular parcel of land by providing information about required planning applications and studies. Underutilized county, municipal, or federal lands are also an option for housing development. Another pathway could involve partnering with faith-based organizations or service clubs to develop housing on land they own. Additionally, local realtors may be able to assist you in finding institutional lands or commercial buildings that could be converted to residential uses.
2.1 Design Considerations
When creating housing of any kind, it’s important to design with the needs of prospective residents in mind. In Bruce County, some of the population groups that could be interested in living in multi-residential or ground-related housing include seniors looking to downsize, young adults, and people moving to Bruce County to seek economic opportunities. Some of these groups may have specific housing needs and preferences, so it’s important to understand and consult with the people you’re aiming to build for. For more information on housing needs and demographic trends broken down by municipality, see the Affordable Housing 101 Guide.
2.2 Designing with Community in Mind
For new developments and redevelopments, it’s important to be mindful of the existing neighbourhood and community in which you are building. Residents in more established communities are often keen to know more about proposals for developments in their neighbourhood. Neighbours may also have concerns about issues like traffic, shadowing, and snow storage, which could be addressed by conducting studies (see more in Section 4: Planning and Approvals).
To build good relationships with the surrounding community and generate support for your project, you should think about:
2.3 Design Considerations for Funding
There are design considerations and requirements that are tied to certain funding programs. For more information on the available funding programs, please see Section 3: Financing and Funding in this Step-by-Step Guide. The following table provides a brief overview of the types of requirements you may encounter.
2.4 Partnering with Community Organizations
Partnering with local organizations and involving broader community stakeholders in the design process are good practices that help ensure the housing you create is relevant to the needs of the community, while helping generate support for the project.
Best practices for collaborative design include:
There are opportunities to partner with non-profit organizations in Bruce County on your affordable housing development. Partnerships could involve:
Examples of Affordable Housing Partnerships
There are also opportunities to partner with major employers in Bruce County on new housing creation. Lack affordable housing is an issue that affects Bruce County’s industries and employers that want to attract and retain workers. The County can help facilitate connections with businesses that are interested in creating, providing, and/or securing housing for their employees.
3.1 Funding Options
There are numerous funding programs available for affordable housing projects. Some of these are summarized in the table below. Bruce County Human Services can also provide guidance and assistance with funding applications. Please note that some of these programs have eligibility requirements such as minimum number of units. For example, CMHC programs requires a minimum of five (5) units. Please see each program link for further details.
For more information and guidance on funding affordable housing projects, please contact:
Other Funding Opportunities
3.2 Incentives for Affordable Housing
4.1 Municipal Information Sheets
This section breaks down the process for planning and approvals by municipality, including key contacts and resources.
Northern Bruce Peninsula
South Bruce Peninsula
4.2 Common Studies for New Developments
There are several studies that you may need to undertake prior to the construction of your building project in Bruce County. The table below lists a few of the most common studies that may be required, the purpose of the study, and the type of development that would require these studies.
Please see the Bruce County Official Plan for the exhaustive list of studies (p. 140).
5.1 Building Permit and Inspection
Building inspection and building permits are overseen by Bruce County’s local municipalities, each of which has a Building By-Law, which specifies requirements for different types of projects and stipulates standards for plans, site drawings, and reports as part of the submission to the local Building Department. However, developers should keep in mind that approval may be required from external agencies prior to the issuance of a Building Permit, the timeline for which is outside the hands of the local Building Official.
5.2 Ensuring Accessibility and Sustainability
Accessibility standards are defined by the Ontario Building Code and enforced by local Building Officials through the Building Permit and Inspection processes. Developers seeking to achieve higher levels of energy-efficiency and sustainability within their projects should engage an energy modelling consultant to confirm that efficiency targets are met pre-occupancy.
5.3 Marketing and Lease-Up
Bruce County can assist owners of new market and non-market rental housing with identifying potential tenants.
A strong local industrial base and burgeoning tourism industry means growing demand for worker housing. Bruce County can connect developers and owners of new rental housing units with employers looking to secure housing for both full-time and seasonal employees.
Similarly, with strong demand for affordable rental housing across the County, Bruce County staff may be able to connect rental property owners with residents on the County’s centralized waitlist. For assistance with lease-up, please contact:
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For more detailed information and comprehensive guides on developing affordable housing, see:
- CMHC Housing Development Resources
- Step by Step Guide to Developing Affordable Housing by Alberta Rural Network