Ontario plan to boost affordable housing creates divide in Ottawa
Provincial legislation would require developers to include a certain percentage of affordable units
In Ottawa, opinions are mixed about planned Ontario legislation to mandate affordable housing by requiring developers to include a certain percentage of affordable units in new developments to get approval.
The practice, called inclusionary zoning, would help Ontario catch up to Vancouver, Montreal and some cities in the U.S., which advocates say have similar policies.
Detailed information, such as percentage requirements and definitions of "affordable," were not forthcoming when the proposal was announced Monday, and it will likely be years before inclusionary zoning is in place in any Ontario communities.
Representatives of a builders association and a group fighting homelessness debated the issue Tuesday on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.
'It's not developers who foot the cost'
John Herbert, executive director of the Greater Ottawa Homebuilders Association, said people buying new homes will end up paying for the province's plan.
"Well it's not developers who foot the cost; it's new home buyers," he told host Robyn Bresnahan. "Developers and builders are just windows through which all of these various costs, taxes, charges and levies are passed.
"Those are the facts. It's not the way we look at it, that's the way it works."
There are better ways to get more affordable housing, Herbert said, adding that the government has to stop increasing taxes on new homes.
But Mike Bulthuis, executive director of Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa, said the city's official plan has for years called for a quarter of all new rental units to be affordable, and that "we simply haven't seen that happen."
He also said the planned legislation is about leveling the playing field.
"We have to recognize that today all of us — new home buyers and residents of the city — are paying for the implications of insufficient affordable housing and homelessness. That's expensive to so many public systems and to you and I, and this is another way of allocating some of those costs in different ways and benefiting, on the other side, with much more positive housing outcomes, with folks that are able to live in diverse and livable neighbourhoods, contributing their community.
"I think we have to recognize that there's a shared responsibility, and what this is doing is trying to structure that shared responsibility."
With files from The Canadian Press