Hamilton Spectator: Advocates call for faster action by Hamilton on LRT affordable housing
Posted May 17, 2022
Posted May 17, 2022
A coalition of concerned residents gathered at city hall Monday to demand Hamilton quickly adopt a new “inclusionary zoning” policy — a tool under provincial law that cities can use to force private developers to include affordable units in new builds near major transit stations.
That tool has so far been “left in the shed,” suggested Karl Andrus of the citizen-led Hamilton Community Benefits Network, who spoke to councillors at a city meeting on the $3.4-billion light-rail transit project. “Every moment you delay, more land is being procured along the corridor by (private) developers.”
He emphasized rental rates have skyrocketed and many tenants have already been displaced along the LRT route via both private redevelopment, as well as Metrolinx buying and emptying 60 buildings for LRT construction.
The city is already working on a prospective inclusionary zoning policy — but it is not expected to be ready before early-to-mid 2023, said planning general manager Jason Thorne.
Coun. Nrinder Nann asked what it would take to “accelerate” that timeline, adding she would consider bringing a motion on the idea to Tuesday’s planning committee meeting. Thorne warned the city’s current goal of early 2023 is already “aggressive.”
The city is also separately looking at the prospect of buying land along the Main-King-Queenston LRT corridor between McMaster University and Eastgate Square. The goal would be to preserve space for affordable housing or other community uses.
The city’s new LRT director, Abdul Shaikh, said Metrolinx is putting together a “working group” to discuss affordable housing that would include the city, province and federal government, but he had no timeline to offer.
The federal Liberal government specified new affordable housing along the transit line was a condition of its $1.7-billion commitment to match provincial funding that allowed the cancelled LRT to be resurrected last year.
What’s new on LRT?
- Metrolinx has demolished 30 of 60 buildings its has purchased along the LRT route;
- Early works like relocation of phone or gas lines may starts along the LRT corridor as early as the fall;
- Underground replacement of some water mains could begin next year;
- No timeline to complete the project has been made public yet.
Article by Matthew Van Dongen for the Hamilton Spectator