January 23, 2018EditorComments 0
After creating a lot of hope by passing legislation allowing inclusionary zoning, the province messed this up and drafted a set of regulations that mean that very few (if any) municipalities will enact local inclusionary zoning bylaws. And those that do will find it doesn’t get them very far.
Inclusionary zoning is an established practice in many jurisdictions, notably the United States.
In the same way that existing zoning bylaws allow municipalities to determine how high a building can be, how many parking spaces are required, or what sorts of businesses can operate on certain streets, inclusionary zoning allows municipalities to require developers to include some measure of affordable housing in their projects.
Despite 40 years of American experience and lessons on what works, the Province of Ontario has drafted regulations that bear no resemblance to any other known inclusionary zoning policy in any other jurisdiction.
Municipalities and housing advocates are puzzled and dissatisfied.
Here’s why the provincial regulation falls short:
Evidence in other cities with inclusionary zoning shows that the affordability cost is typically absorbed through lower land prices: the land has to be developed with some affordable housing, so the land purchase price reflects that because developers are not willing to pay as much for land. This has the added bonus of controlling speculative inflation on land – which itself is a problem for affordability. Making municipalities cough up 40% of the affordability actually reduces this positive effect of inclusionary zoning.
A good inclusionary zoning policy would set reasonable parameters that deliver meaningful new affordable housing without harming the financial sustainability of the developments themselves. There is ample evidence from other jurisdictions that this is possible.
Disappointingly the Province of Ontario has chosen to ignore the evidence. And indeed, they have also seemingly ignored their own goal to increase the supply of affordable housing – because this proposed regulation simply won’t do that.
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