Toronto.com: ‘In the line of fire’: Tenants protest in Scarborough over Ontario Progressive Conservatives’ Bill 23
Posted November 24, 2022
Posted November 24th, 2022
Ontario’s government says Bill 23 will build 1.5 million homes. But who will live in them?
Not us, say people who gathered for a Nov. 18 protest outside a Scarborough MPP’s constituency office in Wexford Heights.
To supporters of ACORN Canada and other tenant advocates, the More Homes Built Faster Act is an attack on people with lower incomes to support developers.
Toronto councillors, meeting to start a new term on Nov. 24, were to hear the Progressive Conservative legislation will cost the city $230 million a year and jeopardize its Housing Now and Open Door programs for affordable housing.
The bill would limit Toronto’s inclusionary zoning for affordable units to five per cent and ditch their affordable status after 25 years, Bernadette Mamo said.
Mamo rents an older apartment in Scarborough Centre protected by the city’s rental replacement policy — which saw 2,200 rental units replaced in five years. She fears Bill 23 will make it possible for a landlord to throw her family out.
If that happens, Mamo, who is on a fixed income and retiring next year, thinks she will find it impossible to afford life in Toronto, and she’s not the only tenant at risk.
“A lot of people don’t realize they’re in the line of fire,” Mamo said beside MPP David Smith’s office in Wexford Heights.
ACORN delivered a letter to Smith, recently elected Progressive Conservative MPP for Scarborough Centre. He did not respond to requests for comment.
Fizza Khalid of the Scarborough Environmental Association said the only way to help the environment is through increasing housing density in cities, but she said she believes the Progressive Conservative government and developers want to build more suburban sprawl in Ontario’s Greenbelt instead.
“I have a full-time job; I went to university. I can’t even afford a place to live,” Khalid said.
“You expect me to move out to the Greenbelt.”
This is why many people aren’t interested in politics, argued Khalid, who said she believes Toronto Mayor John Tory — despite his pledges to the contrary — doesn’t care about affordable housing — and is working with the province to support Bill 23.
Some 285,000 homes are expected to be built in Toronto after Bill 23 passes third reading and becomes law.
In briefing notes for council, Interim City Manager Tracey Cook said cuts in development charges and parkland requirements will cut Toronto’s revenues and make it harder to maintain services or pay for infrastructure or new shelter spaces.
The province would define affordability to market rents instead of household income, as the city now does.
Community benefits charges for developments would also be cut, the notes said.