Social Planning Toronto looks at inclusionary zoning

News May 26, 2015 by Justin Skinner Scarborough Mirror

One of the keys to solving Toronto’s affordable housing crisis could come in the form of new legislation, provided the province gives the city that power.

Private member bills introduced by Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo and Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Peter Milcyn put forth the concept of inclusionary zoning, which would require developments of a certain size to designate a percentage of the units being built as below-market units.

That concept was discussed at length at a panel discussion hosted by Social Planning Toronto on Thursday, May 21 in a meeting room adjacent to College Street United Church.

The meeting featured presentations by affordable housing consultant and policy analyst Richard Drdla, social housing and homeless advocate Michael Shapcott of the Wellesley Institute, Remo Agostino of development company the Daniels Corporation, and City of Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmat.

Despite their disparate backgrounds, the panelists were all in agreement that – with the right assurances in place – inclusionary zoning is a concept that could provide much-needed housing to help meet the affordable housing shortage.

Drdla noted inclusionary zoning has been successful in American cities, though he pointed out the system has not been adopted in Canada.

“I think we are somewhat trapped in a rather old way of thinking about affordable housing,” he said.

In order for such a system to work, he said, inclusionary zoning must be mandatory, must apply to all developers equally and must have provisions in place to ensure affordable units remain affordable over the long term.

Should the system be implemented, Drdla said, “we could be producing 1,000 to 1,500 affordable units per year.”

Shapcott spoke to the growing need for zoning of that sort, highlighting the fact that many former middle-class neighbourhoods in areas such as Scarborough and Etobicoke have become far less affluent. As that has happened, the need for public housing in Toronto has skyrocketed.

“There are 167,531 people on the Toronto (Community) Housing wait list,” he said. “If you happen to look at the past 10 years, that’s an 81 per cent increase.”

Shapcott noted in February alone, there were 2,097 applications for Toronto Community Housing units, and that only 208 people were welcomed into homes.

While the concept of inclusionary zoning may face pushback from some developers, who wish to earn top dollar for every unit, Agostino said the heated market in Toronto would ensure building would still be worth their while.

“Developers are entrepreneurs – they’re city-builders,” he said, noting the industry has adapted to new criteria imposed by the city in terms of sustainable building and accessibility. “If the policy is done in the proper manner, we will figure it out.”

Agostino added, however, the city would need to ensure the policy was well-thought-out and adhered to. He pointed to the city’s “Housing First” mantra, introduced in 1999, which seems to have fallen by the wayside as issues such as public art and environmental concerns have taken the spotlight.

Should inclusionary zoning become a reality, he noted affordable housing actually serves as an economic driver, and that including affordable units in otherwise market-value buildings would offer plethora of benefits, including an end to NIMBYism.

“By incorporating it into a building, you lose those barriers in terms of ‘this building is affordable, that building is market value,’” he said.

Keesmat said the city would be more than happy to implement inclusionary zoning, but noted a lack of autonomy from the province has left Toronto hamstrung in that regard.

“We are a creature of the province and we do not have the tools to implement it,” she said, adding that if and when Ontario gives Toronto the power to make inclusionary zoning mandatory, “we will be implementing this so quickly, it wouldn’t be funny – it would be transformational.”

She added inclusionary zoning would complement rather than replace social housing and pointed to successful communities with mixed income residents.

“You look at a community like Yonge and Eglinton where you have social housing, affordable rental and million dollar homes and they’re all living cheek to jowl,” she said.

Keesmat also pointed to the fact there must be a mix of sale and rental properties that are made affordable, noting the city’s rental stock has failed to keep up with demand in recent years.

The chief planner said inclusionary zoning would put a serious dent in the city’s shortage of affordable units.

“If the city required 10 per cent affordable units in developments of over 300 units...we would have secured 12,000 affordable housing units in the past five years alone,” said Keesmat.

Despite the city’s inability to implement inclusionary zoning thus far, there is movement at City Hall on the issue. Amendments to the Smart Growth for our Communities Act that address housing issues will go before City Council on June 10, while an inclusionary zoning motion put forth by Trinity-Spadina Councillor Mike Layton will be addressed by the city’s Planning and Urban Growth Committee on June 18.

For more information on the issue of inclusionary zoning, visit www.inclusionaryhousing.ca

Social Planning Toronto looks at inclusionary zoning

Panelists at recent meeting agree concept could put dent in Toronto’s affordable housing shortage

News May 26, 2015 by Justin Skinner Scarborough Mirror

One of the keys to solving Toronto’s affordable housing crisis could come in the form of new legislation, provided the province gives the city that power.

Private member bills introduced by Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo and Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Peter Milcyn put forth the concept of inclusionary zoning, which would require developments of a certain size to designate a percentage of the units being built as below-market units.

That concept was discussed at length at a panel discussion hosted by Social Planning Toronto on Thursday, May 21 in a meeting room adjacent to College Street United Church.

The meeting featured presentations by affordable housing consultant and policy analyst Richard Drdla, social housing and homeless advocate Michael Shapcott of the Wellesley Institute, Remo Agostino of development company the Daniels Corporation, and City of Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmat.

Despite their disparate backgrounds, the panelists were all in agreement that – with the right assurances in place – inclusionary zoning is a concept that could provide much-needed housing to help meet the affordable housing shortage.

Drdla noted inclusionary zoning has been successful in American cities, though he pointed out the system has not been adopted in Canada.

“I think we are somewhat trapped in a rather old way of thinking about affordable housing,” he said.

In order for such a system to work, he said, inclusionary zoning must be mandatory, must apply to all developers equally and must have provisions in place to ensure affordable units remain affordable over the long term.

Should the system be implemented, Drdla said, “we could be producing 1,000 to 1,500 affordable units per year.”

Shapcott spoke to the growing need for zoning of that sort, highlighting the fact that many former middle-class neighbourhoods in areas such as Scarborough and Etobicoke have become far less affluent. As that has happened, the need for public housing in Toronto has skyrocketed.

“There are 167,531 people on the Toronto (Community) Housing wait list,” he said. “If you happen to look at the past 10 years, that’s an 81 per cent increase.”

Shapcott noted in February alone, there were 2,097 applications for Toronto Community Housing units, and that only 208 people were welcomed into homes.

While the concept of inclusionary zoning may face pushback from some developers, who wish to earn top dollar for every unit, Agostino said the heated market in Toronto would ensure building would still be worth their while.

“Developers are entrepreneurs – they’re city-builders,” he said, noting the industry has adapted to new criteria imposed by the city in terms of sustainable building and accessibility. “If the policy is done in the proper manner, we will figure it out.”

Agostino added, however, the city would need to ensure the policy was well-thought-out and adhered to. He pointed to the city’s “Housing First” mantra, introduced in 1999, which seems to have fallen by the wayside as issues such as public art and environmental concerns have taken the spotlight.

Should inclusionary zoning become a reality, he noted affordable housing actually serves as an economic driver, and that including affordable units in otherwise market-value buildings would offer plethora of benefits, including an end to NIMBYism.

“By incorporating it into a building, you lose those barriers in terms of ‘this building is affordable, that building is market value,’” he said.

Keesmat said the city would be more than happy to implement inclusionary zoning, but noted a lack of autonomy from the province has left Toronto hamstrung in that regard.

“We are a creature of the province and we do not have the tools to implement it,” she said, adding that if and when Ontario gives Toronto the power to make inclusionary zoning mandatory, “we will be implementing this so quickly, it wouldn’t be funny – it would be transformational.”

She added inclusionary zoning would complement rather than replace social housing and pointed to successful communities with mixed income residents.

“You look at a community like Yonge and Eglinton where you have social housing, affordable rental and million dollar homes and they’re all living cheek to jowl,” she said.

Keesmat also pointed to the fact there must be a mix of sale and rental properties that are made affordable, noting the city’s rental stock has failed to keep up with demand in recent years.

The chief planner said inclusionary zoning would put a serious dent in the city’s shortage of affordable units.

“If the city required 10 per cent affordable units in developments of over 300 units...we would have secured 12,000 affordable housing units in the past five years alone,” said Keesmat.

Despite the city’s inability to implement inclusionary zoning thus far, there is movement at City Hall on the issue. Amendments to the Smart Growth for our Communities Act that address housing issues will go before City Council on June 10, while an inclusionary zoning motion put forth by Trinity-Spadina Councillor Mike Layton will be addressed by the city’s Planning and Urban Growth Committee on June 18.

For more information on the issue of inclusionary zoning, visit www.inclusionaryhousing.ca

Social Planning Toronto looks at inclusionary zoning

Panelists at recent meeting agree concept could put dent in Toronto’s affordable housing shortage

News May 26, 2015 by Justin Skinner Scarborough Mirror

One of the keys to solving Toronto’s affordable housing crisis could come in the form of new legislation, provided the province gives the city that power.

Private member bills introduced by Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo and Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Peter Milcyn put forth the concept of inclusionary zoning, which would require developments of a certain size to designate a percentage of the units being built as below-market units.

That concept was discussed at length at a panel discussion hosted by Social Planning Toronto on Thursday, May 21 in a meeting room adjacent to College Street United Church.

The meeting featured presentations by affordable housing consultant and policy analyst Richard Drdla, social housing and homeless advocate Michael Shapcott of the Wellesley Institute, Remo Agostino of development company the Daniels Corporation, and City of Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmat.

Despite their disparate backgrounds, the panelists were all in agreement that – with the right assurances in place – inclusionary zoning is a concept that could provide much-needed housing to help meet the affordable housing shortage.

Drdla noted inclusionary zoning has been successful in American cities, though he pointed out the system has not been adopted in Canada.

“I think we are somewhat trapped in a rather old way of thinking about affordable housing,” he said.

In order for such a system to work, he said, inclusionary zoning must be mandatory, must apply to all developers equally and must have provisions in place to ensure affordable units remain affordable over the long term.

Should the system be implemented, Drdla said, “we could be producing 1,000 to 1,500 affordable units per year.”

Shapcott spoke to the growing need for zoning of that sort, highlighting the fact that many former middle-class neighbourhoods in areas such as Scarborough and Etobicoke have become far less affluent. As that has happened, the need for public housing in Toronto has skyrocketed.

“There are 167,531 people on the Toronto (Community) Housing wait list,” he said. “If you happen to look at the past 10 years, that’s an 81 per cent increase.”

Shapcott noted in February alone, there were 2,097 applications for Toronto Community Housing units, and that only 208 people were welcomed into homes.

While the concept of inclusionary zoning may face pushback from some developers, who wish to earn top dollar for every unit, Agostino said the heated market in Toronto would ensure building would still be worth their while.

“Developers are entrepreneurs – they’re city-builders,” he said, noting the industry has adapted to new criteria imposed by the city in terms of sustainable building and accessibility. “If the policy is done in the proper manner, we will figure it out.”

Agostino added, however, the city would need to ensure the policy was well-thought-out and adhered to. He pointed to the city’s “Housing First” mantra, introduced in 1999, which seems to have fallen by the wayside as issues such as public art and environmental concerns have taken the spotlight.

Should inclusionary zoning become a reality, he noted affordable housing actually serves as an economic driver, and that including affordable units in otherwise market-value buildings would offer plethora of benefits, including an end to NIMBYism.

“By incorporating it into a building, you lose those barriers in terms of ‘this building is affordable, that building is market value,’” he said.

Keesmat said the city would be more than happy to implement inclusionary zoning, but noted a lack of autonomy from the province has left Toronto hamstrung in that regard.

“We are a creature of the province and we do not have the tools to implement it,” she said, adding that if and when Ontario gives Toronto the power to make inclusionary zoning mandatory, “we will be implementing this so quickly, it wouldn’t be funny – it would be transformational.”

She added inclusionary zoning would complement rather than replace social housing and pointed to successful communities with mixed income residents.

“You look at a community like Yonge and Eglinton where you have social housing, affordable rental and million dollar homes and they’re all living cheek to jowl,” she said.

Keesmat also pointed to the fact there must be a mix of sale and rental properties that are made affordable, noting the city’s rental stock has failed to keep up with demand in recent years.

The chief planner said inclusionary zoning would put a serious dent in the city’s shortage of affordable units.

“If the city required 10 per cent affordable units in developments of over 300 units...we would have secured 12,000 affordable housing units in the past five years alone,” said Keesmat.

Despite the city’s inability to implement inclusionary zoning thus far, there is movement at City Hall on the issue. Amendments to the Smart Growth for our Communities Act that address housing issues will go before City Council on June 10, while an inclusionary zoning motion put forth by Trinity-Spadina Councillor Mike Layton will be addressed by the city’s Planning and Urban Growth Committee on June 18.

For more information on the issue of inclusionary zoning, visit www.inclusionaryhousing.ca