Posted March 13, 2015
Our Scarborough community meeting on Bill 39 was a huge success last week. With over 70 people in attendance at Saint Stephen's Church on Lawrence Ave. East near Morningside Ave., ACORN’s Alejandra Ruiz Vargas passionately led an action-based informational forum on the bill. A dozen students from Seneca College’s Community Worker Program, who helped us organize the event, joined ACORN members, Scarborough allies, and congregation members in action-planning breakout groups that made plans for how we are going to turn up the heat on local Liberal MPP’s to finally support Inclusionary zoning in Ontario. From that meeting, ACORN members and allies are planning lobby visits at 7 Liberal MPP’s (Duguid, Hunter, Bernadette, McCharles; Albanese, Milczyn) offices this month in Toronto. If we do not hear a clear response from them, be sure that we will be letting you and everyone else know about it loud and clear!
In Ottawa, ACORN’s membership discussed at last night’s leadership school on Healthy homes their ambitious plan to work with our allies on Ottawa City Council to get them to pass a motion calling on the province to pass Bill 39. Ottawa's Britania chapter also has plans to hold an action at Ottawa West—Nepean MPP Bob Chiarelli's office on April 1st at 2249 Carling Avenue. They will be saying loud and clear that it is No Joke! People need affordable housing!
In other news, a representative from Peter Milczyn’s office and also MPP Yasir Naqvi himself both spoke highly of a new Expert Panel on Homelessness that would deal with the problem of affordable housing. ACORN is cautious of this announcement for two reasons: 1) We do not see the need to research ideas that have already been researched to death (Bill 39 is a great example - just pass the Bill!) and 2) It is unclear whether this panel will look into the housing needs of low-to-moderate income people at all, or solely look into the needs of the homeless community. That said, this panel does have some allies on it and may be something we will be able to use to push forward real solutions to housing, and not just let Liberal politicians blow hot air through.
Background: Bill 39, the Planning Statute Law Amendment Act, would give mandatory inclusionary zoning powers to cities in Canada. This is something that we see as an important step to make more affordable housing in Ontario - that’s a fancy way of saying that Bill 39 would make it possible for the city to force developers to include affordable forms of housing in new condo and residential developments. This is not the first time that we have seen this bill at Ontario’s legislature. Five times NDP MPP Cheri DeNovo has introduced a nearly identical Private Members Bill only to see the governing Liberals vote against it. This time Bill 39 was introduced by Liberal MPP Peter Milczyn, meaning there may finally be an honest vision by the Governing Liberals to do the right thing and do something for Ontarians when it comes to affordable housing.
Please get back to us if you can make it, or want to hear more about the actions or meetings coming up.