Legal Opinion on Affordable Housing Vote
Posted November 8, 2021
Posted on November 8, 2021
A key vote on affordable housing is taking place at the November 9, 2021 Toronto City Council meeting. City Councillors will be deciding how much affordable housing developers must include in new developments (also known as inclusionary zoning).
Some members of City Council may be attempting to avoid a vote on a stronger affordable housing policy. After hearing from thousands of residents from across Toronto, they likely don’t want to be on record voting against more affordable housing. They’re making the case that there might be “legal implications” to passing a better affordable housing policy – despite our housing crisis.
So Progress Toronto and Toronto ACORN secured our own legal opinion and it turns out – there’s nothing standing in their way from voting on a better housing policy. It’s simply an issue of political will.
More background: On October 28, 2021 City Councillor Gord Perks moved an important motion at the Planning and Housing Committee meeting on behalf of City Councillor Mike Layton (the Perks/Layton motion). This motion was for a much stronger inclusionary zoning policy that would have seen many more units of affordable housing built in our city. And importantly, the numbers in this motion were from a City report that demonstrated it is possible.
Rather than vote on this vital motion, Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão, who chairs the Planning and Housing Committee, sent it off to the City’s legal team asking for a report on the “legal implications of the motion.” The Committee then voted to recommend a weaker inclusionary zoning policy that won’t build as much affordable housing.
We know how this works. This legal report will come to the City Council meeting as a confidential document and the public won’t be able to hear the debate on the motion for greater affordability or know where their City Councillor sits on the issue.
So we secured our own legal opinion.
Progress Toronto and Toronto ACORN received a legal opinion from Goldblatt Partners LLP, a highly respected law firm.
The legal opinion makes it clear: there is nothing standing in the way of Toronto City Council voting on the stronger affordable housing policy.
The legal opinion states that there is no legal requirement for the City Solicitor to review Perks/Layton motion as was requested, that the motion complied with the Planning Act, and that the Supreme Court of Canada has found that councils have broad discretion to determine the social, economic and political interests of a council and the residents it represents.