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Petawawa Housing Needs Assessment - Final Report

2023 Housing Needs Assessment (Synopsis)

The Town of Petawawa engaged SHS Consulting to conduct a Housing Needs Assessment. The purpose of the Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) study was to gain a better understanding of housing needs and opportunities in Petawawa and to look at housing gaps as well as housing affordability with a look towards alternative forms of housing, specifically seniors housing.  This information will be used to form policies within the Official Plan, and it has already been incorporated into the Housing Action Plan that was prepared to support the Town’s CMHC Housing Accelerator Fund Application.

The HNA is based on a review of detailed data sets looking specifically at the demographic profile, the housing profile, and overall housing needs within the Town of Petawawa.  The consultant utilized key indicators, emerging issues, housing market gaps, and contributing factors to highlight areas for which the Town may want to prioritize.  This data was obtained from Statistics Canada, CMHC housing starts, rental market information, and data from the Town and County of Renfrew.

The consultant recommended that the Town adopt the new definitions, as they are now referenced throughout the Planning Act and such definitions were also required as part of the HAF funding application.

Affordable Housing 

  • Rent – Affordable rent is no greater than 80% of the average market rent.
  • Ownership – Affordable price is no greater than 80% of the average purchase price.

Attainable Housing

  • The HNA report recommended that attainable housing be defined as housing that is at or below average market price, but above 80% of the average market price.

Policy Context

  • The County of Renfrew is looking for 15% of new builds to be affordable and achieve a 3% vacancy rate
  • The County supports lower-tier municipalities in developing policies, standards, and by-laws to permit and regulate alternative forms of housing such as tiny homes.
  • The County indicates there are tools relating to housing, such as regulating short-term rental accommodations and the adoption of Community Improvement Plans to improve the affordability of housing stock.
  • The Town of Petawawa has existing policies and zoning provisions specifically designed to encourage and allow secondary dwelling units.  The as-of-right provisions make the process of creating additional units much more streamlined and easier from an application standpoint. 
  • The Official Plan and Zoning By-law will continue to be transformed and additional policies will include three (3) units as-of-right on fully serviced lands and specific policies for tiny home developments are being explored. 
  • Moving forward there is potential to include a number of the HAF initiatives, if not realized through the grant program, as part of our housing strategy.

Housing Needs Assessment Summary

Key points on Housing Supply:

  • Housing stock is predominantly single-detached dwellings
  • Housing stock is young which has led to a lower rate of inadequate housing
  • Housing starts and completions have been trending down in recent years
  • Severe lack of purpose-built rental housing
  • Rental market supply remains stagnant
  • Lack of rental units has led to a sharp increase in rental prices
  • Ownership prices continue to grow

Key points on Housing Affordability:

  • Lower rates of households facing affordability issues as compared to the County overall
  • Lower rate of households in core housing need relative to the rest of the County
  • Availability may be an issue for renter households looking for accommodation
  • The secondary rental market is considered affordable for moderate and high-income households
  • Ownership resale market was considered affordable for moderate and high-income households

Housing Gaps

The Housing Needs Assessment outlines three main housing gaps:

  1. Purpose Built Rental Units

There is a need for the construction of purpose-built rental units. The analysis showed that only 44 units of purpose-built rental units have been constructed over the past 10 years. That has left individuals wanting to rent with, in many cases, having to rent existing single dwellings or secondary rental units created within those single detached dwellings. These units tend to be of older stock and often require more major repairs. This trend has created a sharp increase in rental prices and a decrease in vacancy rates within Petawawa. The data within the report shows that it is the renter households who are experiencing the greatest issue with affordability, spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

  1. Seniors Housing

The Town’s population tends to be the youngest overall in the County of Renfrew and yet the senior age cohort, those people over the age of 65, is the fastest growing cohort in Town. These are also the households that are more likely to be low-income and require a range of options to be in a position to age in place. The majority of the housing stock that seniors own are single dwellings which may be too large and difficult for empty-nesters or single seniors to maintain. There are no long-term care homes or retirement homes in Petawawa and yet the County reports there is a demand throughout the County of Renfrew for seniors housing which is evident through the substantial waiting list that they maintain.

  1. Diverse Range of Housing Options

The study found that the growth in one or two-person households accounted for almost three-quarters of the total household growth between 2016 and 2021. The consultant identified that at the same time, the needs for family-sized households need to be considered. The number of 3 or 4-bedroom rental units has not changed since 2011, and they are also the most unaffordable units on the rental market in Petawawa. The family-sized units tend to be single detached dwellings which continue to increase in price and are unaffordable for moderate-income households.

Households experiencing the most affordability issues were one-person households and lone-parent households. These households are currently struggling to afford their housing accommodations.

Immigrant households require various forms of housing whether it be transitional in nature or multigenerational household accommodations. Diverse housing options that would include apartment units, tiny homes, and multiplexes would provide more options for a range of household sizes and types.

Final Comments

The comprehensive HNA report includes solution-based case studies from other communities that staff can consider as they utilize this data to advocate for and effect change to address these needs and gaps relative to our housing stock and capacities. 

In the stakeholder sessions with builders and developers, it was very apparent that upfront costs were a significant factor in housing developments and the reason for the predominance of single detached dwellings which can be built and sold more readily.  Municipal staff will be looking for options to support builders and developers in overcoming these cost challenges to realize more purpose-built rental units for all community residents.  

The full HNA report is available as a document download in the file section of this webpage.


The Town of Petawawa has engaged SHS Consulting to conduct a Housing Needs Assessment.  The objective of the Housing Needs Assessment is to:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of housing needs and opportunities in the Town of Petawawa. 
  • A Housing Needs Assessment will be developed to focus on addressing housing gaps and increasing housing affordability in the Town of Petawawa.
  • Will work in conjunction with population and employment forecasts (completed by metroEconomics) to provide insight into future housing needs.

What are the steps for undertaking the Housing Needs Assessment?

  • Resident survey and stakeholder engagements.
    • The Housing Needs Assessment Survey is now closed
    • Stakeholder Meeting #1 with Builders and Developers July 19th, 9:30 am - 11:30 am  
    • Stakeholder Meeting #2 with Community Partners July 20th, 9:30 am - 11:30 am
  • Reviewing promising practice research for alternative housing forms such as tiny homes.
  • The thorough Housing Needs Assessment will incorporate forecasted growth, household income data, market supply trends, and affordability measures will be used to identify key housing gaps in Petawawa.

Take the Housing Needs Assessment Survey

Please take a few minutes to complete this Housing Needs Assessment Survey which will help inform the future direction of housing development in the Town of Petawawa.  The survey is now CLOSED.  Thank you to all who provided input.


File Name Type Size
PEW01S - HNA Final Report - Dec 13 2023.pdfpdf icon1.23MB