Applied research with local impact

Students from the University of Waterloo’s School of Planning have worked closely with the Town of Saugeen Shores and the Municipal Innovation Council (MIC) for the last three months.

Two hands hold a small house shape above a desk of construction plans

Six groups, each with four to five members, have conducted applied research on housing pressures and needs in the region.

Describes the difference between tracking and performance metrics. A tracking metric is a current, up to date snapshot of housing in a given community. A performance metric looks at the impact that infinitives are having on housing in a given community.

On Tuesday, April 7, Jay Pausner (Supervisor, Development Services, Town of Saugeen Shores) and I facilitated a day-long Attainable Housing Research Symposium. Each of the six undergraduate student groups masterfully developed and delivered their presentations to a large group of municipal staff, elected officials, members of the Saugeen Ojibwa Nation, and community partners.


The day began with introductions from Jay and I along with the faculty lead, Dr. Mark Seasons. Two groups presented their comprehensive environmental scans along with findings from other jurisdictions in Canada.

Illustrates the use of the tracking metric – housing affordability to understand how many households fall below the affordability standard.

In the second hour of presentations, two groups shared their research on the viability of various solutions to increase affordable and attainable housing stock in the Saugeen Shores context.


The final hour featured two presentations on monitoring and evaluation systems that municipal staff can use to actively assess options to improve availability and access to attainable housing.


Having had the opportunity to meet with each student on a bi-weekly basis, I saw firsthand how capable and talented the students are in UW’s planning program. I was immensely impressed by each student’s professionalism and competency around the issue of attainable and affordable housing.

What moved me was their enduring commitment to improving people’s lives in Saugeen Shores. Their work will have a significant impact.

So, what now?

The Town of Saugeen Shores, Bruce County, and the Municipal Innovation Council are going to meet shortly and identify which findings we can integrate into the short, medium, and long term.

A map that highlights the communities that a research group looked at to locate proven practices that improve affordable and attainable housing stock.

Staff in other municipalities and community members will also be able to integrate the student’s findings into plans for more equitable and accessible housing throughout Bruce County. I also encourage everyone to visit planthebruce.ca to learn more about the County’s planning efforts and engage in the planning process.

To Sawroop, Nikhail, Julia, Yifan, Demi, Daniel, Trisha, Christy, Samantha, Anika, Stephanie, Mark, Miila, Ammy, Rebecca, Erica, Jamies, Daniel, Zach, Samaha, Sybrielle, William, Dylan, and Amy: Thank you. Your future is bright.

--Dave Shorey is the Innovation Officer at the Municipal Innovation Council.