Want to move to Kingston? You may have trouble finding a home
City hoping to attract residents from Ottawa, Toronto despite housing issues
People in cities such as Ottawa and Toronto who buy into Kingston, Ont.'s marketing ploy to move there will have to deal with the city's housing shortage, said the man leading the city's housing task force.
"You can find a place to live … [but] to be honest it may not be exactly where you want to be, and you may have to choose quickly," said Ted Hsu, the co-chair of the task force, which was launched this year by Kingston's mayor to look into affordable housing options.
"It may not be as easy as it could be in some other cities because Kingston is a desirable place to live."
Kingston's "Possible Made Here" campaign kicked off Sunday, asking people to escape the big city life and move to the eastern Ontario city.
Officials in Kingston are trying to appeal to a relative lack of traffic jams, arts scene and access to nature, but their tactics were criticized from those familiar with the housing turmoil.
Pushing people away
Hsu told CBC Radio's All In A Day the housing issue is pushing people away from Kingston.
"Kingston's high cost of housing is causing some researchers, young researchers, students, not to come to Kingston … We're hearing from Queen's University that the research is suffering," he said.
"A few years ago the retirement residences used to advertise to fill their empty spaces and now they have waiting lists.
"We've also heard from St. Lawrence College [that] growth, [for example] in international student populations, [is] hitting a housing constraint in Kingston."
According to internal and independent reports, Kingston has the lowest rental vacancy rate of any Ontario city.
Craig Desjardins, Kingston's director of strategy, noted there's lots of home construction underway.
Hsu said the city is working on short term solutions, including changing zoning bylaws to allow people to have a second residential unit — a separate apartment either inside or detached from the principal home.
It's also pushing forward with plans for more purpose-built rentals and single detached homes, he said, while investigating long-term solutions.
The city's campaign is targeting skilled workers for its institutions and businesses in order to help the local economy.
"If you have job waiting for you, you will find a place to live," he said.
Hsu and his team will present their findings to the city by the end of the year.
With files from CBC Radio's All In A Day