Yesterday, Ontario introduced the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016, that would, if passed, help ensure that the people of Ontario have better access to affordable and adequate housing.
The changes would amend four provincial acts to help increase the supply of affordable housing across the province and modernize existing social housing by:
- Allowing municipalities to implement inclusionary zoning, which mandates that affordable units be included in new residential projects in willing municipalities.
- Making secondary suites in new homes less costly to build by exempting them from development charges. Secondary suites are a potential source of affordable rental housing and allow homeowners to earn some extra income from their property.
- Giving local Service Managers more flexibility to administer and deliver social housing in their communities, which will help to reduce wait lists and make it easier for Ontarians to access a range of housing options.
- Encouraging more inclusive communities and strengthening tenant rights through reforms that prevent unnecessary evictions from social housing and modernize how rental property standards are enforced.
- Supporting better program design and decision-making by requiring Service Managers to conduct local enumeration to count people who are homeless in their communities.
Ontario announced its update to the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy in March 2016. The update focuses on making housing programs more people-centred and co-ordinated, and provides municipalities with flexibility to meet local needs through tools like inclusionary zoning.
Improving access to affordable housing is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority – growing the economy and creating jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is also making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.
- Inclusionary zoning has been used extensively by communities around the world, including in the United Kingdom and in over 500 municipalities in the United States.
- In the coming weeks, the province will consult with municipalities, developers and other interested parties to help develop a framework for inclusionary zoning in Ontario.
- The proposed framework for inclusionary zoning would allow municipalities to implement measures like height and density, and to offer incentives such as reduced parking, waived or reduced fees and faster approval processes. This would help to address potential issues related to the economic profitability of development proposals.
- The updated Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy reflects input the government received at 38 stakeholder meetings during summer 2015, and from 113 formal written submissions that reflect the housing needs of Ontarians across the province.
- The revised strategy also reflects the recommendations made by the Expert Panel on Homelessness’ 2015 report and the recent report by the Mayor’s Task Force on Toronto Community Housing Corporation.
- The 2016 Ontario Budget announced an investment of $178 million over three years to support the updated strategy.