The province of Manitoba has passed legislation authorizing the use of mandatory inclusionary zoning. This law came into effect on 5 December 2013 when the legislation received Royal Assent. This represents the first time, and only so far, that a province in this country has passed such enabling legislation.
The legislation, made through amendments to Manitoba’s The Planning Act and The City of Winnipeg Charter, provides the enables all municipalities and planning districts in the province to pass by-laws that would require developers of new market residential developments to construct and provide a proportion for housing affordable to low and moderate income households. Read the legislation.
The legislation is simple and straightforward, containing only these four key provisions:
- The zoning by-law for a new development may require that a specified percentage of the dwelling units are offered as affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households.
- The by-law also must contain a definition of affordable housing (or a way of determining when housing is affordable).
- The by-law may allow for modifications to the relevant specific development requirements, including permitted increased density, in return for the affordable housing.
- The development agreements associated with these development may set terms and conditions for the following
- the provision of the affordable housing, including their number, type and extent; and
- the measures required to maintain the long-term affordability of the affordable housing.
It is worth noting that these provisions enable, but do not require, the municipalities to use mandatory inclusionary zoning. Also, these municipalities apparently already have the authority to use incentive zoning, through which developers can be encouraged through incentives, but not required, to provide affordable housing.
The legislation establishes the essential provisions needed for the municipalities to create effective inclusionary programs, but before doing so, they will need to address regulations and procedures dealing with a number of other important aspects, including (but not limited to) these:
- the affordable housing definition, including developing a serviceable yardstick;
- the compliance alternatives, including especially the use of fees–in-lieu;
- the potential cost-offsets;
- the specific developments subject to the requirements;
- the minimum design standards of the affordable housing units; and
- the legal mechanisms for maintaining long-term affordability.
Because many of these aspects are complex, and in any case will also necessarily involve the province, the province should take the lead in developing appropriate approaches that can be used by all municipalities across the province, rather than expecting the municipalities to develop them one-by-one on their own.
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