Inclusionary Zoning

Condo developers near subway stations will be required to set aside 5 to 10% of their units for affordable housing, under a plan approved by Council this week. Not surprisingly, the "Inclusionary Zoning" plan was simultaneously denounced by housing advocates who said it wasn't enough and by developers who complained it would cut too much into their profits.

The plan calls for the phase in of truly affordable units. Rents and sale prices will be based on the ability of low and medium income earners to afford them.

The Province is only allowing Inclusionary Zoning in defined areas close to transit stations. Because Willowdale has three existing subway stations along Yonge between Sheppard and Finch, developers in the area will eventually be subject to the new rules.

For reasons that have not been adequately explained to me, City staff recommended a lower rate for our area. Considering that developers and land speculators in our area hit the jackpot two years ago when the Province slashed the amount they contribute to community benefits, I have asked for a review of the rate, with a report to Council next spring.

My preference would have been to vote with those pushing for higher amounts of affordable housing across the city but I feared that this would not end well – not because the developers couldn't afford it but because Doug Ford would have used this as their excuse to gut the initiative.

They may do so anyway. Let's make no mistake about who's really in charge here.

Because developers cannot appeal the Inclusionary Zoning amounts, it appears on the surface that Council had a lot of control over it. But the new rules must be approved by the Provincial Government, which has shown an unusual deference to the wishes of the development industry. The Province can also refer the matter to the developer-friendly Ontario Land Tribunal, whose members it appoints.

You'll be hearing more about this in the future.

- John