Finding creative solutions for the housing crisis

We can unlock housing in Ontario in ways that don’t worsen urban sprawl, threaten farmland or the places we love.

Carol Latimer
Director, Market Housing Branch
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
777 Bay Street, 14th Floor
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2E5
Phone: 416-585-6872
Email: housingsupply@ontario.ca

RE: Comment on housing supply consultation

To Ms. Latimer,

Please accept my comments below regarding the housing supply mix for Ontario.

It’s clear that access to housing is a critical issue in many parts of Ontario, with people being locked out of both home ownership and the rental market. In my riding of Guelph, we are seeing rising housing prices, a shortage of affordable housing.

When a high percentage of people’s incomes are locked into big mortgage payments or high rents, communities, families and economies suffer. The housing crisis tears at the fabric of our communities. It is especially stressful for young families and seniors.

And it hurts our businesses too. When workers cannot afford to live near a business, it becomes more challenging for employers to find skilled workers and it forces employees to commute longer distances, putting stress on family and community life.

The good news is that many studies show there is enough space for employment and housing in existing lands zoned for development. We do not have to pave over the Greenbelt, farmland and the places we love to unlock affordable housing in Ontario.

We do need government to show leadership in working with and supporting municipalities to focus on density over sprawl, support more mid-size and compact developments and be more innovative in using existing buildings and development lands. We especially need the province to work with developers and municipalities to clean brownfields for development.

Here are some suggestions on how to make that happen:

1. Use zoning to create more supply

  • Update zoning laws to allow alternatives to single-family detached homes, such as tiny homes, secondary suites, co-housing and laneway housing.
  • Incentivize municipalities to zone for the missing middle: a combination of mixed-use buildings and medium density housing types and rental units that increase residential densities while largely maintaining the look and feel of a neighbourhood; helping Ontario to build up, not out.
  • Re-introduce the brownfield remediation fund to redevelop existing land into commercial or residential properties.
  • Increase supply of housing without destroying farmland or greenspace. Only 20% of the land set aside for development in the 2006 Growth Plan has been used. That leaves 80% left to develop.
  • Plan for density around each transit stop, such as retail stores and residential buildings.

2. Encourage inclusionary zoning

  • Improve Ontario’s inclusionary zoning legislation to ensure the permanent creation of rental and deeply affordable units, mandating that developers include at least 1 new unit of affordable housing for every 5 new houses or condos (20% affordability minimum for new development), including purpose-built rentals.
  • Work with municipalities to create incentives such as density bonuses and expedited approvals for inclusionary zoning developments.

3. Address the rental market

  • Create more affordable, safe rental housing options by working with municipalities to modernize by-laws that currently prohibit or establish unreasonable barriers to creating additional housing, such as licensed basement apartments.
  • Prioritize surplus provincial and municipal lands for purpose built rental properties.

While outside the scope of this particular consultation, it’s also essential we make it a priority to provide provincial funding and work with other levels of government to provide support for permanent supportive housing, social and co-op housing, and for portable rental supplement payments.

If the provincial government works with municipalities to remove barriers that stand in the way of making better use of our built environment, we can find creative solutions for the housing crisis in Ontario that don’t worsen urban sprawl, threaten farmland or the places we love.

Regards,

Mike Schreiner
Leader, Green Party of Ontario