Ontario opening up to inclusionary zoning

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Monday morning, the Ontario government announced a number of proposals and policy measures meant to help them achieve their goal of ending chronic homelessness in the next 10 years.

In addition to a $178 million investment in subsidies and benefits for affordable housing, the province has also committed to creating legislation that would allow inclusionary zoning, a framework strategy that would allow municipalities to make it mandatory for developers to set aside a percentage of new units for affordable housing.This legislation is still years away from being implemented — nothing has been brought in front of Parliament yet — but it’s getting a lot of support from various municipalities who have been looking for a way to encourage developers to create mix-used buildings.

The announcement follows the release of a report by Mayor John Tory’s Task Force on Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), which ultimately found the TCHC has inadequate funding and that Toronto itself is facing an affordable housing crisis.

“The mixed-communities all know that it’s a better model,” said Ana Bailão, Toronto Housing Advocate, in an interview last month. “When you have mixed communities you have better social outcomes. You need to have people connecting with each other from different backgrounds, socially, culturally, and that is not happening within our TCHC community.”

The legislation was announced by Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Ted McMeekin and Deputy Premier Deb Matthews at the Fred Victor Mission in Toronto’s Moss Park neighbourhood. The promised $178 million investment will be spent over the next three years and includes $100 million for a Supportive Housing Policy Framework, which would provide services like counseling, dispensing medication, and life skills to those living in affordable housing units, and a $17 million investment in portable housing benefits targeted towards survivors of domestic violence. The province will also provide an additional $45 million for the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative.

The updated strategy was the result of 38 stakeholder meetings and 113 formal written submissions about Ontario’s housing needs. It also took the TCHC final report into consideration.

“Implementing the strategy will be a key ingredient to making progress on affordable housing in Toronto,” said Bailão after the provincial announcement. “We welcome the actions outlined in this strategy and are pleased to see many of our own recommendations included.”


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