Creating inclusive, complete communities with a broad mix and range of housing types is an important step in supporting Ontario’s health and prosperity.
The updated Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy focuses on increasing the supply of affordable housing, supporting people and ending chronic homelessness.
Working towards these goals requires a system built on partnerships with the private and non-profit sectors, and between all levels of government.
On December 8, 2016, Bill 7, the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016 was given Royal Assent. The resulting changes to the Planning Act will give municipalities the option of requiring affordable housing units as part of residential developments.
The government consulted with municipalities, developers, housing advocates and other interested parties in spring and summer 2016 on a framework for inclusionary zoning in Ontario. The government carefully considered the broad range of comments and suggestions received during the consultation and introduced amendments to Bill 7 to respond to what it heard.
When proclaimed, the legislation for inclusionary zoning will provide that:
- A municipal assessment report is to be prepared prior to adopting official plan policies for inclusionary zoning and reviewed every five (5) years. This report will be subject to criteria set out in regulation.
- Municipal inclusionary zoning requirements must be outlined in municipal official plan policies.
- While inclusionary zoning by-laws cannot be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (except by the minister), appeals of typical zoning matters, such as building height and density, are permitted even when used as measures and incentives to meet inclusionary zoning needs.
- Municipalities may permit affordable housing units to be located on another site, subject to criteria set out in regulation.
- Municipalities cannot accept cash in lieu of affordable units.
- Municipalities may use Section 37 of the Planning Act (allowing for greater building height and density in exchange for community benefits, such as heritage preservation or improvements to parkland) in combination with inclusionary zoning, subject to criteria set out in regulation.
- Landowners must enter into agreements with the municipality that may be registered on title and enforceable against subsequent owners, to ensure that the units remain affordable over time.
- The minister is provided with regulatory authority to exempt certain developments from inclusionary zoning.
- Municipalities must establish procedures for the administration of affordable housing units so that they remain affordable over the long term and meet reporting requirements.
Inclusionary zoning would help to achieve a number of outcomes:
- Serving more people: inclusionary zoning would increase the supply of affordable housing that serves the needs of low- to moderate-income families and individuals.
- Creating inclusive and integrated communities.
- Meeting local needs: municipalities can tailor inclusionary zoning to help them meet affordable housing objectives and targets set out in their housing and homelessness plans and official plans.
Inclusionary zoning has been used extensively by communities around the world, including in England and in over 500 municipalities in the United States.
In the coming months, the province will consult with municipalities, the development and housing sectors and other interested parties, on a summary of proposed regulatory content for inclusionary zoning. The summary of proposed regulatory content may address items such as:
- A threshold size for residential development projects that would trigger when to apply inclusionary zoning
- Specifying that inclusionary zoning units would be maintained as affordable for a certain number of years
- Rules that would set out the percentage of total units in a residential development project required to be affordable under inclusionary zoning
A copy of the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016, is available on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website.