Gull River Housing

Work in Progress

The Kawartha Lakes Haliburton Housing (City of Kawartha Lakes and County of Haliburton) waiting lists are grim. If you put your name on a list today, you could wait seven years to get into a housing unit – and that does not include the demand from employed singles and couples who need a place to live for their jobs. There are almost 1,700 unique households on the current waiting lists, a 375% increase since 2013. The largest group are singles and couples, with seniors and families making up the remainder of the roll. By and large, small one-bedroom units are the most needed, at 75% of the units required.

There have been small yet important gains over the past few years, but not enough rental housing exists to address the one and two-bedroom needs.  The low-income demand requires 121 units in the county annually to be developed. The targets are only achievable with funding and policy support from all levels of government as well as participation from private developers, the local housing corporation, non-profit housing providers, community agencies and residents.

This project is a partnership between private development, the KLH Housing Corp., who supply 65% of the affordable rental housing in the area, and the Township of Minden Hills and has already garnered the collaboration and support from city councilors, housing advocates and local builders.

These 35 rental units, plus shared utility space, are located on a wooded site with water access to the Gull River, providing an unprecedented amenity for low-income housing. The site is also sandwiched between two heavily used public facilities. To the immediate south and connected by a walking path is Rotary Park, a beautiful park located along the Gull River with beaches, a boat launch and small dock, playground, picnic shelters, and plenty of grassy areas for playing. On the adjacent parcel to the north is the Royal Canadian Legion – a local magnet for seniors and people of all ages with well organized activities, good food, and a welcome atmosphere.

KLH has designated these rental units for women and children, a group that will benefit from the location and environment. Understanding this, connecting each home to the landscape through large windows was of utmost importance.

Consisting of nine fourplex buildings, the houses feature sets of reciprocating sloped roof profiles that define the array of units on the site while providing sheltered front entrances and rear patio spaces focused upon the river beyond. Each ground floor unit is designed to be accessible, and all the houses are engineered to receive PHIUS+ certification. Clad in cedar and metal roofing, colour is used at grade to articulate and differentiate the units. An array of tones drawn from the spring and fall colours that line the river ensure that each family has a unique entrance. The sloping roofs also help to distinguish the units and blur the ‘sameness’ that can be associated with affordable housing.

By collaborating with a panelized building manufacturer that specializes in passive house construction and whose shop is less than three kilometers away, we have set up a system that allows these homes to be prefabricated, shipped, and erected quickly and efficiently. The panel systems are also designed to be materially efficient, eliminating waste and reducing resources consumed.