affordable housing The following is a guest post by Marc P. Kemerer a partner with Blaney McMurtry LLP in the firm’s Planning and Expropriation law group and the Architectural/Construction/Engineering Services (ACES) Group. Marc has acted for a number of large developers and regularly provides strategic and legal advice on large residential, condominium, retail/commercial and subdivision developments.

At its meeting of 2 October 2012, Toronto City Council approved the recommendations of the 16 August 2012 Planning Staff Report that the City update its policies on affordable housing by amending the City’s Official Plan to:

1. Recognize affordable ownership housing and to authorize affordable rental units located in a registered condominium, subject to certain conditions, as community benefits through the City’s section 37 height/density incentives policies. (Section 37 of the Planning Act allows municipalities to pass by-laws authorizing increases in the height of density of development in return for the provision of “such facilities, services or matters” set out in the by-law.); and

2. Provide more flexibility in the housing definitions in section 3.2.1

According to the Staff Report, the Official Plan has helped to conserve the City’s stock of affordable rental housing but has achieved little in the way of creating new affordable housing. To correct this, the City intends to look to developers to “offer more housing choice with better affordability”. Recognizing affordable home ownership and lifting the previous prohibition on the provision of rental housing through registered condominiums is seen as effective tools in this effort.

As developers are generally at odds with the City’s ever-expanding approach to section 37 benefits, they are not likely to embrace these proposed changes. Moreover, such
costs of development are usually passed on to the purchasers through higher market unit pricing, suggesting that those who are subsidizing affordable housing are not the City’s citizens at large, but rather those who purchase market condominiums. In the author’s view, these new policies would result in a form of income redistribution within the buildings themselves. This gives a whole new meaning to “love thy neighbour”.

This story originally appeared in the Blaneys on Building November 2012 newsletter.

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