Mayor Elmslie at the Centre of Intra-Group Conflict Stalls Housing Density Solutions in Kawartha Lakes

Published on April 25, 2024

Kawartha Lakes, Ontario - April 25, 2024 - The City of Kawartha Lakes finds itself at a crossroads as internal discord within the Kawartha Lakes Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) and the Mayor's office has led to a deadlock in advancing critical housing density solutions. The ongoing conflict threatens to impede progress on addressing the pressing housing affordability crisis facing the community.

Tensions within the PAC, a key body responsible for advising on land use planning and development matters, have escalated in recent months, with members at odds over proposed measures aimed at increasing housing density to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing options. The disagreement stems from differing visions for the city’s growth trajectory and concerns over the potential impact of densification on neighborhood character and infrastructure.

“The inability of the PAC members to find common ground on housing density solutions is deeply concerning,” said Mayor Doug Elmslie in past interviews. “We are facing a housing affordability crisis in Kawartha Lakes, and it is imperative that we work together to explore innovative strategies to address this issue. The current impasse is hindering our ability to take decisive action and meet the needs of our residents.”

The discord among PAC members mirrors broader divisions within the community regarding the various stakeholders and the influence of NIMBYism. PAC members and the mayor face push back on the housing densification program from current residents as declared at the twelve minute two second mark on the recording of the in the most recent PAC meeting of April 10 2024.

This puts Mayor Elmslie in a very difficult spot because Mayor Elmslie who was granted strong Mayor Powers last year. Effective November 1, 2023, the Province announced that Strong Mayor Powers will be extended beyond Toronto and Ottawa to 45 total municipalities – Kawartha Lakes included. These changes were put in place to support the Province’s priority and commitment to increasing the housing supply by 1.5 million homes by December 31, 2031.

Strong mayor powers offer resources to heads of council to accelerate the implementation of key shared municipal-provincial priorities such as housing, transit, and infrastructure.

Doug Elmslie, Mayor of Kawartha Lakes. “Elmslie said this funding means the municipality can keep moving forward toward its development plans and streamlining the administrative process.”

The stalemate within the PAC and the Mayor’s office has frustrated residents and housing advocates who are eager to see tangible progress in addressing the housing crisis. Many emphasize the urgency of finding common ground and moving forward with pragmatic solutions that prioritize the well-being of all residents.

As the City of Kawartha Lakes grapples with internal discord and competing interests, the need for collaborative leadership and proactive engagement has never been more apparent. The longer this internal discord continues the more rents escalate and the cost of home ownership continues to be out of reach for most families.

About the City of Kawartha Lakes

The City of Kawartha Lakes is a vibrant and diverse community located in the heart of Ontario’s scenic Kawartha Lakes region. With a rich history, natural beauty, and a strong sense of community spirit, Kawartha Lakes offers residents and visitors alike a high quality of life and abundant opportunities for recreation, culture, and economic growth. Through collaborative partnerships and innovative initiatives, the City of Kawartha Lakes is committed to building a prosperous and sustainable future for all.

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