Insauga: Mississauga moves for more affordable housing, but citizens group says it’s not enough
Posted August 16, 2022
Posted August 16, 2022
The City of Mississauga has adopted a new policy it says will get more badly-needed affordable housing built in the city, but one citizens group says the move won’t accomplish nearly enough.
Approved by City council earlier this week, Mississauga’s Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) policy is a tool through which all new housing developments in protected Major Transit Station Areas (MTSA) across the city will be required to provide a percentage of their units as affordable housing.
The policy will take effect on Jan. 1, 2023 at the earliest and will apply to larger-scale developments with over 50 ownership units (or 3,600 square metres of residential area). It includes a three-year phase-in period to allow the market to adjust to the new requirements.
Once built, the new units will remain affordable over time, City officials say.
“Like many municipalities across this province, Mississauga is facing a housing affordability crisis that is pushing the price of owning and renting out of reach for many of our residents,” Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a news release. “While there are no easy solutions to this problem, we are doing everything we can to address it, from speeding up permit approvals to protecting our rental supply.
“And now, we are going one step further. I am proud that Mississauga is one of the first municipalities in Ontario to move forward with an Inclusionary Zoning policy. We remain committed to using all of the tools that the Province has given us to increase our supply of affordable housing for our residents.”
Peel ACORN, an independent social and economic justice organization comprised in part of low- and moderate-income Mississauga residents, says it’s “dismayed” by Mississauga’s IZ policy because it doesn’t go far enough to tackle the huge problem.
Members of the public interest group who for years have been fighting for more affordable housing in Mississauga and Brampton have held several protests at City Hall in recent months to voice their concerns. Their latest demonstration was this past Monday, when the City’s planning and development committee was giving its final green light to the IZ policy and passing it onto council for approval.
City officials say at this point IZ can only be used in MTSAs or other areas as directed by the Ontario government.
They note the new policy will:
- following a phase-in period, require five to 10 per cent of the residential area in a new building to be set aside for affordable units; the percentage varies based on where the development is located
- ensure IZ units remain affordable over time by requiring a 99-year affordability period for ownership units and a 25- to 30-year affordability period for rental units
- encourage the supply of rental housing by providing a reduced IZ set aside rate for developers who provide affordable rental units in their condominium projects. In addition, purpose-built rental projects (developments with rental units only) will be completely exempt from IZ requirements
“We’re pleased that our new IZ policy will help more middle income households find housing they can afford,” said Andrew Whittemore, the City’s commissioner of planning and building. “While this is a bold step for our city, it’s clear that municipalities and the development community can not solve the housing affordability problem alone. To truly move the needle on affordability, we need all levels of government at the table.”
Identified MTSAs in Mississauga include:
- along the Hurontario Light Rail Transit route from Port Credit north to Matheson Blvd. W., including downtown core transit areas
- along the Hwy. 407 Bus Rapid Transit Route (Derry and Britannia Rds. transit areas)
- along the future Lakeshore Rd. East Bus Rapid Transit Route (Lakefront Promenade, Haig Blvd. and Dixie Rd. transit areas)
- along the Dundas St. Bus Rapid Transit Route
Members of Peel ACORN say the City simply isn’t going far enough in its quest for more affordable housing options, especially given skyrocketing rental prices in Mississauga and across the GTA.
The group, which launched efforts to push for a stronger IZ policy last fall, contends the City’s policy is “lacking on several counts.”
Members have pushed for Mississauga to ensure that:
- developers be required to set aside at least 20 to 30 per cent of new units as affordable
- the policy be adjusted so as not to be limited to MTSAs, as “the entire city needs affordable housing”
- the policy be applied to purpose-built rentals in addition to condos
“Inclusionary Zoning is a powerful tool in the hands of the cities to provide affordable housing,” Peel ACORN members said earlier in attempts to implore Mississauga to strengthen and broaden its IZ policy.
ACORN Canada is a national independent organization of low- and moderate-income people with more than 160,000 members in 20-plus neighbourhood chapters in nine cities.
Article by Declan Finucane for Insauga