inclusionary zoning toronto

Toronto passes controversial rule forcing developers to build affordable homes

Well, it happened: Toronto will finally be moving forward with a long-discussed Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) policy designed to make living in the city more affordable.

This afternoon, city councillors voted overwhelmingly to approve the implementation of guidelines that will force developers to build affordable rental and ownership units within certain residential developments in portions of the city starting in 2022.

This long-discussed planning tool aimed at improving housing affordability in one of the most expensive cities on the continent took a leap forward in late October when the city's Planning and Housing Committee voted to approve a staff report that advanced the policy.

That vote paved the way for the policy's final judgement day. And IZ was the top item at Tuesday's council meeting, with longwinded questions, detailed explanations, and debates dragging the issue on well into the afternoon.

Motions by councillors seemed to be pulling in both directions.

Mayor John Tory summed it up perfectly, stressing that council is never going to agree entirely on any given issue, but that the range of opinions evens out at a need to make changes to the system.

"When you have two polar opposites that are coming at you in respect to opinions on something, with one side saying you're doing too little and the other side saying too much, you probably, within the margins, have arrived at about the right place with the kind of balance you need in order to achieve what you're setting out to do," said Tory.

"Which in this case is to get affordable housing built."

After several motions by council members and some pretty spirited speeches on the topic, it was finally time to vote.

And the results were almost unanimous in support of IZ. Only two councillors voted against the IZ report, unsurprisingly Michael Ford and Stephen Holyday, the motion carrying by a vote of 23-2.

With the biggest hurdle now in the books, the policy will next have its final recommended Implementation Guidelines submitted in the first half of 2022.

Between five and 10 per cent of condominium developments would be subject to the rules, though this rate would increase gradually to 22 per cent by 2030.

Units secured under the IZ policy will go to households with an annual income of between $32,486 and $91,611, and will be maintained as affordable for 99 years after their construction.

"No two cities have the same Inclusionary Zoning policy," said Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão, who also chairs the city's Planning and Housing Committee.

"The implementation of this made-for-Toronto program is balanced, forward-looking and equitable," said Bailão. 

"It will provide longer and deeper affordability for our residents who find it difficult to manage on a limited income, and help us to reach the City's target of more than 40,000 affordable rental and ownership homes by 2030."

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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