Toronto advances policy to curb housing crisis but some say it's not enough
Toronto took a much-anticipated step toward curbing the housing crisis affecting the city yesterday when the Planning and Housing Committee voted to approve a staff report that advances a long-discussed Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) policy.
While the big step is being celebrated by many voices who have lobbied for better housing solutions, some are asking if enough is being done in the face of a runaway housing market.
The IZ policy will appear before Toronto city council at an upcoming November meeting, and if adopted in this final vote, it would make Toronto the first city in Ontario to implement legislation that makes it mandatory for real estate developments of a certain size to include affordable housing units.
And we're not just talking a few affordable housing units sprinkled in with the glut of high-priced condo towers taking over the city.
The policy would go into effect next year, initially applying to between five and 10 per cent of new condo developments, before ramping up to between eight per cent and 22 per cent by 2030.
"I'm proud to support our Inclusionary Zoning plan – the first of its kind in Ontario. This will get more affordable housing built in our city and the one-year review of the policy the committee supported today will ensure we strike the right balance," said Toronto Mayor John Tory.
Affordable units — protected for 99-year terms — would be built in varying concentrations depending on the location of the city, with Downtown being allocated the highest affordable housing requirements. New income-based definitions of affordable housing determined by the Planning and Housing Committee target households with annual incomes of between $32,486 and $91,611.
"Implementing the Inclusionary Zoning policy in Toronto will keep us on the road to our goal of creating 40,000 affordable homes by 2030," said Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee, Ana Bailão.
But not everyone is jumping for joy over the report's approval. ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) Canada, an organization fighting social and economic injustice, has been working behind the scenes to get IZ passed but is now voicing disappointment at the results.
The Planning and Housing Committee passed Inclusionary Zoning that is too low, and too slow. This is disappointing.@m_layton's motion, moved by @gordperks and supported by @kristynwongtam would have made sure that we took advantage of the opportunity presented by IZ— Toronto ACORN (@TorontoACORN) October 28, 2021
Voices within the building industry also seem to be pushing back against the IZ policy, including the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).
The @bildgta is running anti-inclusionary zoning ads on AM1010. They are not your YIMBY allies (if anyone needed some disabusement). Anybody/firms w/in BILD network feeling ethical and want to speak up? https://t.co/W1i2t9uLXj— Three Geese Radius (@shawnmicallef) October 28, 2021
BILD is actually not entirely against IZ, but is pushing for city offsets or incentives to be provided to developers for new inclusionary zoning housing units.
Basically, BILD wants the city (and the taxpayer) to contribute to get affordable housing built rather than footing the bill entirely on wealthy developers.
Inclusionary zoning wont do much for supply growth but Toronto’s biggest issue is public perception. After a few years of IZ, people may begin to associate towers with affordable rentals instead of ‘evil condos’. This could make renters pro-development instead of anti-condo.— TO.ON.CA (@TOONCA5) October 28, 2021
Others don't expect the policy to make much of a difference in the affordable housing shortage any time soon, but see it as a step to curbing Toronto's condophobia.
City Council will meet on Nov. 9, where the IZ policy will be considered for adoption.
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