Written by Kyla Tanner
December 8, 2020
Every year the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) holds a multi-day conference in the fall. As a student studying planning the last two years, I always looked forward to hearing speakers discuss pertinent topics in planning, such as the missing middle, Indigenous perspectives in planning, complete streets redevelopment, and municipal responses to climate change, among others.
The 2020 conference theme was housing and demographics. Naturally, I had been looking forward to it all year. With the COVID-19 pandemic, presentations were moved to the virtual world and spanned over four Wednesdays in September and October. Speakers from across the province provided valuable insight regarding housing in Ontario and I attempted to attend all of those pertaining to affordability.
There was a common theme among a few of the presentations: policies and tools utilized by municipalities to create and enable affordable housing. Two presentations in particular focused on this theme heavily, ‘Affordable Housing vs. Housing Affordability’ by SHS Consulting and ‘Tools to Encourage the Development of Affordable Housing’ by J Consulting Group and Vink Consulting. In this blog post I thought I would highlight the policies and tools that were discussed by these groups. The following is a list of actions that municipalities can take, organized by the headings of Zoning, Financial Incentives, Building Standards, Conversion Policies, Housing First, and Community Land Trusts.
The majority of these policies and tools aim to reduce the cost of affordable housing, passing the savings onto the tenants and thereby offering lower rents. When the cost of development is too high, affordable rent rates are difficult to achieve, sometimes causing the project to be unfeasible and never get built. Determining feasibility and finding cost savings is Cahdco’s bread and butter and we are always happy to discuss potential projects with groups.
The presenters at OPPI framed these policies and tools as things that municipalities can, and should implement where appropriate. The policies and tools can also be thought of as devices that groups can advocate for their municipalities to implement, and, where they are already in place, as tools for organizations to utilize when creating affordable housing. When it comes to creating a city that is more affordable for all of its residents, one can never have too many tools to help achieve that goal.
December 8, 2020