Affordable Housing Plan Causing Some Controversy in Mississauga
Affordable housing has been a hot topic, as home prices have risen expoentually and wages have not been able to keep up. Right now, home ownership seems out of reach for many Mississauga residents and that is a major current and long-term concern for both the City of Mississauga and Region of Peel.
One thing that might help is known as inclusionary zoning (also called IZ)—a project initiated by the province of Ontario to mitigate rising housing costs for the long-term.
As the City of Mississauga continues to grow, the lack of affordable housing has become a primary concern for residents. Some of the things that made Mississauga a great city are now at risk. Some issues include the rising prices of homes, low vacancy rates, low supply of land and cost of infrastructure development.
The City of Mississauga has tried to pursue a variety of different programs to ease the pressures off Mississauga residents, such as the "Making Room for the Middle" housing strategy. Middle income earners are households that earn between $55,000 and $100,000 per year and housing is considered affordable when it costs less than 30 per cent of annual gross household income for housing.
The province has tried to pursue a housing strategy for the long-term and since 2016 has been working on changing the Planning Act, as amended by the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, to include IZ into legislation. The primary purpose of IZ was to increase affordable housing for middle income earners and would require developers to designate between five per cent and 10 per cent of their units as affordable.
On April 12 of this year, the IZ was approved and is included in todays legislation. On July 12, an update was provided to the Region of Peel.
Here are only a few of the number of the rules where IZ would apply:
- Only for developments with not less than 10 residential units
- Locations where IZ by-law would apply
- Identifying a rage of household incomes where affordable housing could be provided
- Identifying a range housing types, sizes and units
Since the legislation has passed, here are some of the exemptions to where IZ would apply:
- Development containing less than 10 residential units
- Developments proposed by non-profit housing providers
- Any developments, permits, community planning permits that have already been passed before the IZ legislation came into effect.
For those who don't know, IZ was introduced in 2016, and since then has gone through a process of review and feedback from a variety of different stakeholders. Back in February of this year, the report went to the Region of Peel for comment and in March went to the City of Mississauga Council for review.
Some of the comments at Council in March included concerns from Councillors that the IZ policies would not include non-profit organizations from taking part in the program.
"[The ownership only requirement] doesn't seem to match with the growth plan and the province's claim that they want to increase affordable rental housing. I have a real concern that the province to date has only made this for ownership, and I really question the rational behind that," says Councillor Pat Saito.
Councillor Nando Iannicca felt similarly about the mandate of IZ.
"How incredibly stupid is that?" he said. "These are people that can't afford a down payment on a condo. So what if I knock the price down 10 per cent. It's just absurd on its face."
Others agree that it’ll be difficult to find an ideal solution.
"There's a lot of work to be done here, it's a complex issue," says Councillor Ron Starr.