The Muskoka Community Land Trust is on a mission to create just, healthy, and inclusive neighbourhoods and they want to get started in Bracebridge.
During the most recent Bracebridge general committee meeting, Suzanne Martineau from the Land Trust explained that the organization’s goal is to help the most vulnerable section of the community.
“They need shelter, they need safety and they need affordability,” she told councillors.
The Trust will acquire, hold, develop and manage land and housing projects in Muskoka and surrounding areas, she explained, under the unique community ownership model of a Community Land Trust.
Martineau explained the land trust model – wherein a new resident buys the home outright but leases the land from the trust, who own the land permanently. When the home is eventually sold, the homeowner sells for a price set by the trust. The trust is a not-for-profit organization and can keep the price of the home affordable when it is sold to a new buyer, who agrees to the same terms as the first owner.
Martineau said there are 30 such land trusts established across Canada, and they are becoming an increasingly popular option as the crunch on affordable housing reaches new levels.
The lack of affordable housing is also hurting the local economy, she pointed out, as employers are unable to recruit workers from outside Muskoka because there simply isn’t anywhere to live.
Martineau said the situation has reached crisis levels.
“We’re losing a good portion of our community….to people leaving to go to more affordable communities,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
The group is new, and as such are currently in the process of creating a business plan and establishing a board, which they asked councillors to assist with if possible.
Martineau also said she wants to issue a personal challenge to councillors to help the Trust launch their inaugural project in Bracebridge and show the rest of Muskoka that the model can be successful. Martineau also said the group was seeking capital funding from all of the District’s lower tier municipalities.
The committee was supportive of the concept but said it would help if the Trust had a specific number they were looking for in terms of capital funding.
Martineau said she would take their input back to the Trust working group for further thought.
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