Ontario supports Inclusionary Zoning

In Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy Update, released on 14 March 2016, the provincial government announced its intent to pass “legislation for inclusionary zoning that would enable municipalities to mandate the inclusion of affordable housing units in new development projects” (see full LTAHS Update report).

The Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ted McMeekin, has said that he wants the legislation passed by early June.  As he quite rightly noted, this legislation will be “transformational” to how affordable housing will be provided in this province in the future.

This legislation would be a major breakthrough and a critical step forward.  When passed, it is expected that the legislation will remove the single most significant barrier to the municipalities using inclusionary zoning – namely, their lack of authority to compel private developers to contribute affordable housing.

But, before the municipalities will be able to take effective advantage of this new authority, they will also need additional help from the Province in the following crucial ways:

  •  providing authority to use ‘positive covenants’ or some other form of “self-administering” enforceable agreement for protecting the on-going affordability of these units;
  •  re-formulating Province’s definition of ‘affordable housing’ (as found in the PPS) so that it could be made operational, and also ensure that affordable housing targets gaps in the housing supply rather than promoting what the developers are already capable of doing;
  • generating the economic data needed by each municipality for annually setting their income and price limits for the affordable housing by unit and family size; and
  • providing advice and assistance on the rules and regulations necessary to create effective programs while also minimizing the adverse impact on the developers.
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