Richmond Hill Mayor David West welcomes some of the plans for a new provincial report on affordable housing, but he also finds some of the recommendations “deeply concerning”.
the Report of the Task Force on Housing Affordability in Ontario published on February 8 proposes changes that would give the province the power to impose standards related to zoning, density and urban planning.
“I fundamentally oppose any recommendation that reduces public participation,” West said in a statement. “Public participation is essential to the success of any community.
“We can look for additional ways to improve the development application process, but limiting public engagement shouldn’t be one of them.”
He believes that an increase in housing supply requires not only planning approvals, but also the actual construction of the units themselves.
Although Richmond Hill continues to improve municipal planning approval processes, it says there are more than 11,000 city-approved units that remain unbuilt by landowners and developers.
“Shortening the approval process won’t result in units being built faster or priced more affordably.”
However, West is pleased to see some of the report’s suggestions consistent with city planning, such as community improvement plans and inclusive zoning around major transit station areas.
According to the provincial report, the task force’s recommendations include five main areas to achieve the goal of adding 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. They are:
• Make changes to planning policies and zoning to allow for greater density and increase the variety of housing.
• Reduce and streamline urban design rules to reduce development costs.
• Depoliticize the approvals process to combat NIMBYism (Not-In-My-Backyard) and cut red tape to speed up housing.
• Prevent abuse of the appeals process and resolve the backlog at the Ontario Lands Tribunal by prioritizing cases that increase housing stock.
• Harmonize efforts between all levels of government to encourage more housing.
Affordable housing continues to be a top concern as Richmond Hill plans for the future through the Official Plan Update.
Last year, Richmond Hill council approved a Affordable Housing Strategyoutlining actions to help provide greater accessibility for current residents and future generations.
More recently, the city brought together a group of experts to help prioritize short-term and long-term efforts that a municipality can implement.
Mayor says Richmond Hill is committed to working in partnership with residents, all levels of government, the building and development sector, and others, to help create more affordable choices for residents .
“I implore the province to include municipalities and our residents in these important discussions.”