Re: Inclusionary Zoning Submission
The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (“CERA”) is a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to preventing evictions, ending housing discrimination and addressing human rights violations in housing across Ontario. For sixteen years, CERA has served 1500 clients annually who are facing eviction and human rights violations in their housing, such as the need for accommodation for disability. We also work with tenants, landlords, post-secondary institutions, community partners and the public to deliver public education to communities and vulnerable individuals and build the capacity of Ontarians to understand their housing rights. CERA’s high volume of clients gives us unique and current insight into the issues faced by renters across the GTA, particularly vulnerable renters, including seniors, newcomers to Canada, racialized individuals, persons with disabilities, and families.
Context: inclusionary zoning policy development in the City of Toronto
We appreciate that the City has demonstrated a willingness to address the current housing crisis by integrating a human rights-based approach to HousingTO, the City’s 10-year housing plan for 2020-2030. CERA is also pleased to see that the City has committed to developing an inclusionary zoning (IZ) policy that focuses on increasing the supply of affordable housing. The development of an inclusionary zoning policy is an important complement to the work currently underway on the housing plan and CERA appreciates the opportunity to provide feedback to the city to help improve the policy.
A rights-based approach to inclusionary zoning
As with the HousingTO plan, it is important that the IZ policy reflects a rights-based approach. Rights-based approaches ensure consideration for the most vulnerable in our City and their fundamental right to live in dignity. They also foreground the needs of people and, as a result, generate policy that is people-centered.
CERA respectfully submits that the current path upon which inclusionary zoning is tracking does not reflect a rights-based approach, nor does it leverage inclusionary zoning in a way that maximizes the opportunity it provides. CERA is therefore requesting that the City of Toronto staff expand the parameters of the draft policy and embed a rights-based approach to inclusionary zoning, in order to create of as much perpetually affordable housing as possible for the people who need it the most.
On May 28, 2019, the Planning and Housing Committee directed that the public consultations on proposed Official Plan inclusionary zoning policy directions and affordable ownership housing definition include the following:
a) Applying Inclusionary Zoning to as-of-right and rezoned development;
b) Applying Inclusionary Zoning as broadly as possible geographically;
c) Applying Inclusionary Zoning at set aside rates that provide the greatest amount of affordable housing;
d) Keeping the housing affordable for the greatest duration; and,
e) Ensuring Inclusionary Zoning units reach deeper levels of rental housing affordability, wherever possible, to reflect the need for deeply affordable rental housing.
CERA strongly supports the direction given by the Committee.
Where to apply inclusionary zoning
Inclusionary zoning should be applied to every new development, including as-of-right, redevelopment and added density. It should be applied in all market areas of the city and to all developments over a low, reasonable unit threshold. There is evidence that inclusionary zoning could be applied at higher rates and more broadly geographically if it was applied at variable rates, depending on the market capacity of different areas. In low market areas, there must be the possibility of gradually extending and intensifying inclusionary zoning when it becomes more feasible. As we see from the jurisdictional scan prepared by staff for the Planning & Housing Committee meeting held on May 28, 2019, inclusionary zoning requirements could be much higher. i
Inclusionary zoning in Toronto should apply to developments that are significantly smaller than what is proposed in the Official Plan Policy Directions. The City should analyze the role of inclusionary zoning in “the missing middle” and seek to encourage the development of low and midrise buildings as well as the higher density development often associated with IZ. CERA also recommends that the city could consider ACORN’s report Inclusionary Zoning: Best Practice to assess how municipalities in other countries, such as the US and the UK, have approached IZ policies.ii Each of these adjustments would create a far greater supply of affordable housing than would be created under the current proposed approach.
Period of Affordability
The financial impact analysis commissioned by the City of Toronto states that “extending the transition timeline from 25 to 99-years (effectively, into perpetuity), creates a similar magnitude of percentage change in land value results.”iii Toronto needs a sustainable long-term plan for affordable (rental) housing. To achieve this, units should be perpetually affordable, and having in mind that ownership is more feasible, they should be sold to non-profit organizations to be managed and rented as both affordable and deeply affordable.
Partnership with not-for-profits
The City should take active steps to start facilitating partnerships with qualified not-for-profits housing providers in order to ensure that they are properly prepared for the new policy. One of the ways this can be done is through consultations targeted specifically at engaging not-for-profits who would potentially be able to assist with implementing the IZ policy. It is important to get different perspectives on the policy and giving non-profits the opportunity to have their voices heard is vital in order to make the process and policy human rights based.
Level(s) of affordability
IZ units created should reach deeper levels of rental housing affordability, wherever possible, to reflect the need for deeply affordable rental housing. The financial impact analysis looks only at 100% or 80% AMR, which means that the housing created will still be unaffordable to many Torontonians.iv It is important that the city examine the possibility of setting a variety of levels of affordability and, in areas than can bear it, the goal should be set to reach affordability levels at the deepest possible levels. This aligns with the human rights principle of prioritizing those with the greatest need. While the number of affordable units developed is important, this must be balanced against the equally important objective of increasing the degree of affordability of those units.
Equity and diversity
Research has shown that other municipal jurisdictions have taken measures to ensure that the housing available from inclusionary zoning is equitable. For instance, rather than only having a certain number of units as the requirement, other cities have required a certain percentage of the building to be inclusionary in order to avoid making only studio or 1 bedroom units available. v
Furthermore, research shows that incentives can be used to make sure that the housing provided is varied. For instance, in one California municipality, incentives were provided for the construction of family units by allowing one large family unit to count as two smaller units for the purposes of meeting IZ requirements.vi This has the effect of ensuring that neighborhoods are mixed, not only in terms of income, but also in terms of housing type and demographics. Holistic considerations and approaches to inclusionary zoning, as mentioned above, are necessary to achieve an effective and equitable policy that reflects human rights considerations.
Conclusion: The City’s role in ensuring adequate housing
The power to shape the city through the approval of new residential buildings has been underused by the city of Toronto. Developing a bold inclusionary zoning policy offers an opportunity to mitigate the housing crisis and ensure that the public benefits when developers construct new buildings. It is important that the city choose social inclusion over NIMBYism, and the rights of current, future and potential residents must remain paramount as compared to considerations of profit and retaining neighbourhood character. CERA recommends that the City use this opportunity to ensure that as many Torontonians as possible have the chance to realize their right to live in safe, adequate and affordable housing in sustainable, mixed-income communities.
i City of Toronto “Inclusionary Zoning Jurisdictional Scan”(2019), online
ii Acorn “Inclusionary Zoning Best Practice”(2019), online
iii The City of Toronto “Evaluation of Potential Impacts of an Inclusionary Zoning Policy in the City of Toronto”
(2018) at 29, online https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/90b6-Final-Draft-City-of-Toronto-IZAnalysis-
iv Ibid at ii.
v Acorn “Inclusionary Zoning” at 7, online.