Housing Accelerator update, week 12
Richmond Hill, Toronto, Oakville
Week 6: Quebec, Kitchener, Guelph, Burlington
Week 8: Waterloo, Charlottetown, Winnipeg
Week 9: agreements with Kitchener and Quebec
Week 10: agreements with Calgary and Moncton
Week 11: Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg
Richmond Hill, ON
Back on October 25, in week 7, Richmond Hill voted to move forward with the additional changes Sean Fraser had requested:
Legalize four units as-of-right city-wide
Allow up to four storeys as-of-right within 800 metres of rapid transit and where MTSAs [station areas] do not extend to a walkable radius of 800 metres
Zoe Demarco, Storeys: Richmond Hill Inks $31M Housing Accelerator Fund Deal. This happened on Monday.
The funds will help fast-track the building of over 780 housing units over the next three years, and spur the construction of more than 41,500 homes over the next decade.
$31M would build 62 homes at $500K each, so this is between 12X and 600X as cost-effective in building new housing.
Christian Paas-Lang, CBC: Feds want Toronto to do more in exchange for housing cash — the mayor says she's ready.
Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser has handed Toronto an eight point to-do list that he wants addressed in exchange for $500 million in federal housing funding — a list Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow says she welcomes.
The most interesting requirement:
Increase minimum allowable density and minimum allowable height within walking distance to transit. Consider the merits and opportunities of the legislation introduced by the provincial government in British Columbia and advocate alignment with Ontario’s approval of Toronto’s Protected Major Transit Station Area Official Plan.
BC’s transit-oriented development policy.
David Lea, Oakville Beaver: Oakville North-Burlington MP says town needs to act or miss out on funding.
On Tuesday, Liberal MP Pam Damoff, who represents the riding of Oakville North - Burlington, spoke at Oakville’s city council meeting. She said that mayor and council haven’t responded to Sean Fraser’s letter regarding their Housing Accelerator application, and she encouraged them to do so.
I found this especially interesting because it’s an example of an MP speaking to council directly to try to persuade them to allow more housing. It’s basically a form of diplomacy. According to Machiavelli, the three elements of diplomacy are persuasion, compromise (offering carrots), and pressure (threatening to use sticks). As Steve Lafleur notes, Sean Fraser’s innovation has been to use the Housing Accelerator carrot as a stick.
Apparently the mayor, Rob Burton, objected to the tone of Sean Fraser’s letter, and also objected to Damoff’s tone as well. He interpreted it as more pressure, rather than persuasion. Direct link to video from the city council meeting.
Damoff noted that Oakville’s vacancy rate is 1% (a healthy rate would be more like 5%) and rents are the highest in the GTA ($3000/month).
Four units as of right. This was a suggestion of the Ontario housing affordability task force. Municipalities across Canada, including our Halton neighbors in Milton and Burlington, have done this.
Sheridan College. I've heard horror stories about students crammed into substandard housing. Jeff and Mark, I don't need to tell you about that, you represent the area around Sheridan College. I think it's a reasonable suggestion, but again, it's up to you on council and the mayor to decide.
From the Oakville Beaver story:
Damoff said the mayor has not responded to the minister’s letter.
“Every week when I get to Ottawa, I hear about more deals with more cities across the country. I hear from mayors who are taking bold steps to build more homes. They’re stepping up and we’re funding them,” said Damoff.
“I’ve asked the minister for updates on Oakville’s application, but every time I do, he tells me the letter from a month ago has not received a response. This $4-billion fund is highly competitive. Already half of it is subscribed and I don’t want Oakville to miss out.”
[Mayor] Burton disputed Damoff’s statement, noting that staff from his office and staff from the minister’s office have been discussing this matter.