Toronto considering inclusionary zoning plan to expedite building of affordable housing

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Toronto council will consider three staff reports next week that could help advance these affordable housing goals including: expansion of the Housing Now initiative; the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition (MURA) Program and a proposed new Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) policy.

Planning staff will recommend the implementation of inclusionary zoning in Toronto – the first city in Ontario to implement this tool – which will require that new developments in the city include affordable housing. Beginning in 2022, IZ will secure five per cent to 10 per cent of condominium developments as affordable housing, increasing to eight per cent to 22 per cent by 2030.

IZ is already used in more than 800 jurisdictions in the U.S., Australia and Canada. This represents a much-needed shift in how the city treats new developments. It will ensure affordable housing is incorporated in new developments on a consistent basis rather than being negotiated on a site-by-site basis.

Mayor John Tory says initial estimates show the three initiatives together could help create more than 12,000 affordable homes within the next five years across the city.

“As we work to make sure Toronto comes back stronger than ever in the wake of the pandemic, these are the types of policies and initiatives we need to move forward with so that our city continues to grow and prosper,” Tory said.

“With approval, these initiatives will ensure we continue to get more housing built. This is important action on the housing file that will translate very quickly to more shovels in the ground across the city. And those shovels will build thousands of new places for working young people and working families to call home.”

The Housing Now initiative was approved by City Council in January 2019 to use underutilized, city-owned lands to develop affordable rental housing within transit-oriented, mixed-income, mixed-use, and complete communities.

Committee and Council will consider the recommendation to expand the program to include four additional sites, as part of the third phase of the program:

  • 2700 Eglinton Ave. W.
  • 40 Bushby Dr.
  • 4040 Lawrence Ave. E.
  • East Bayfront (also known as Block R6)

These four sites are estimated to provide between 1,150 and 1,400 new homes, including between 450 and 600 affordable rental homes.

Through the planning approval process, the original residential targets set for the Housing Now initiative were exceeded, as an estimated 13,479 new homes are being created. This includes 3,037 ownership homes and 10,142 purpose-built rental homes, of which 5,005 will be affordable.

“We continue to build upon our experience in creating and retaining affordable housing for the hardworking residents in this city who find it hard to make ends meet. Through innovative programs and continuous improvement, we are well on our way to delivering on our goal of creating 40,000 affordable homes by 2030,” said Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão, planning and housing committee chair.

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