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E-BLAST: Affordable Housing in Toronto? Yes, It’s Possible.

November 4, 2021

City Council is on its way to adopting one of the most important pieces of policy developed this term: Inclusionary Zoning. This is absolutely essential to addressing Toronto’s housing affordability crisis. Without policies like Inclusionary Zoning, soon there will be no realistic way for our kids and grandkids to live in our city. I don’t know about you, but I want my grandkids to be able to live nearby.

We need a range of housing options in our neighbourhoods.

Inclusionary Zoning is designed to create more affordable housing options, both rental and ownership, across Toronto. It’s been used in hundreds of cities across the United States, Australia, and parts of Canada, and it works best in cities where there is strong demand for housing. We know Toronto fits that bill. This policy defines what is considered affordable and requires developers to set aside a certain percentage of housing units as affordable in any new development.

I want to be clear about what we mean when we say affordable housing. Too often, we use “affordable housing” as a catchall in Toronto to describe very different housing options. Inclusionary Zoning is focused on creating more housing at a specific point on the housing spectrum:

This policy is intended to create housing for households that earn too much to be eligible for social housing, but can’t truly afford market rents or market housing prices. These “low-to-moderate income households” generally earn between $35,000 and $88,500 per year, depending on the household size.

We’re talking about young people working their first full-time jobs and families with one or even two income earners. Many of our essential workers, like Registered Nurses and Early Childhood Educators, earn in this range. Currently, these folks find themselves paying well over 30%, often over 50%, of their monthly income on housing costs. That is not affordable or sustainable.

As many of you will remember, here in Don Valley North we have been including a number of affordable units in larger developments for some time now. This has been a personal priority of mine since I first became Councillor. Inclusionary Zoning will see these affordable units created across the city in a way that reflects Toronto’s unique challenges and keeps in line with Provincial regulations.

121 Parkway Forest Drive is an affordable rental building here in Don Valley North built all the way back in 2006.

The previous Provincial Government first announced Ontario would have Inclusionary Zoning in 2016, but took until 2018 to enact regulations just before the Provincial election. Shortly after, the new Provincial Government quickly undertook legislative changes to limit the number of areas that Inclusionary Zoning could be applied to, and required municipalities to present Inclusionary Zoning policy plans by summer 2022. They also passed Bill 108, which prioritized density around transit stations and changed the way municipalities receive community benefit funding from new developments, funding which was previously used to support affordable units in new buildings.

The Province has restricted Inclusionary Zoning to the areas around major transit stations. I have worked closely with Mayor Tory to ensure that the Sheppard Subway Corridor is studied as part of this plan after the initial submission to the Minister. This will ensure that the Inclusionary Zoning plan works for Don Valley North.

City Council will be considering the Inclusionary Zoning proposal next week. It proposes that we:

  • Phase-in affordable housing requirements for new developments from 5-10% in 2022 to 8-22% in 2030. This provides time for land values to adjust and the amount of affordable housing required to incrementally increase.

  • Require the affordable units to remain affordable for 99 years, ensuring that this stock of housing is not lost over the short term.

  • Provide a clear transition period to account for developments that are already underway.

  • Monitor this policy continually over its implementation to ensure it’s achieving the goals it set out to achieve.

City staff developed this plan through extensive research and consultation with the community and various stakeholders. The result is a framework that balances the Provincial expectations with the needs of our city.

The only piece left to work out is making sure these affordable units go to those who need them most. I remain very concerned that we continue to negotiate new affordable housing for hard-working young people and families, but are still not transparent about who gets to live in those units.

Right now, when affordable units come up in new developments, the developer is required to hold a lottery to determine who gets to live in them. You can sign up on the City’s website to be notified of these lotteries, but there is no queueing. You simply roll the dice each time the next development with 20 or 30 affordable units comes up. I moved a motion back in 2019 to have staff explore how to create a better system to allocate these units. With Inclusionary Zoning set to deliver tens of thousands of affordable units for decades to come, we need to come up with a fairer system fast.

City Planning put together a video highlighting some unique Toronto rental experiences that show just how important Inclusionary Zoning is.

We can’t beat ourselves up over our housing affordability crisis, but we do need to act now to tackle it from every angle. Consider this: If we had put Inclusionary Zoning in place back in 2011, we would have created over 30,000 new units of affordable housing over the last decade. That’s why I support this proposal, which will create thousands of affordable units and keep them affordable into the next century. We need this policy to stabilize our housing market and create realistic options for hardworking Torontonians. Our kids and grandkids deserve some hope that that they will be able to stay in the city they love.


Oriole Community Centre: Vaccine & Flu Clinic Starting Wednesday, November 10, COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots will be available at Oriole Community Centre (2975 Don Mills Road). The clinic is open on:

  • Wednesdays from 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM

  • Thursdays from 1:30 PM - 5:30 PM

No appointment is needed. COVID-19 first and second doses are available to anyone born in 2009 or earlier. Flu shots are available to anyone 6 months and older.

This clinic is a collaboration between North York Toronto Health Partners, Working Women Community Centre, North York Harvest Food Bank, Toronto Public Health and Flemingdon Health Centre.

Vaccine Passports Proof of vaccination is now in effect for select non-essential settings in Ontario. If you need to print or download your proof of immunization, you can do so by visiting or calling the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900. For more information on the vaccine passport, visit the link below:



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