At the Burlington City Council meeting on Jan. 19, Council unanimously endorsed the proposed terms of reference for Phase 1 of the City of Burlington’s Housing Strategy.
The City’s Housing Strategy arose from its Strategic Plan, Burlington’s Plan (2018 to 2022) From Vision to Focus, as well as the City’s new Official Plan.
Through engagement with the community on the development of the City’s Strategic Plan, housing affordability in the city was a concern raised by many. As a result, the Strategic Plan which was approved in 2016, highlighted opportunities to diversify housing choice through the development of policies within the new Official Plan, and alongside that work, identified the need to prepare a Housing Strategy.
Burlington’s From Vision to Focus Plan (2019) identifies, as a key action item, the completion of the City Housing Strategy and its implementation to address the housing needs of young families, seniors, newcomers, and residents with special needs.
The City’s new Official Plan includes a framework for the development of a city-wide housing strategy. The policies set out that the housing strategy will:
- support the Region of Halton’s Housing Strategy;
- describe the current range and mix of housing in the city;
- establish city wide housing objectives, including, among other objectives special reference to a seniors housing strategy and long-term care facilities;
- consider housing policies and strategies from the Official Plan and area specific plans;
- examine opportunities for partnerships to increase the supply of affordable housing;
- develop minimum targets:
- in support of achieving the Region of Halton’s housing mix and affordable and assisted housing targets;
- within mid-rise and tall buildings for affordable, assisted and special needs housing;
- for two and three bedroom units for residential development applications, including minimum targets for three bedroom units.
- consider financial and other incentives including grants, property tax reductions, infrastructure and community improvement plans to facilitate the provision of affordable and/or special needs housing;
- research the development of an inclusionary zoning by-law, as part of a Region or City program; and
- recommend any required amendments to the Official Plan to implement the findings of the housing strategy.
WHO DOES WHAT?
There are many stakeholders involved in providing housing and related support services. All levels of government, as well as non-profit organizations and cooperatives, the private sector and individuals play an essential role in the delivery of housing and in addressing local housing challenges.
The Federal Government, that is the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) provides mortgage insurance to homeowners and funds and implements various housing programs, including programs to support and deliver Canada’s National Housing Strategy.
The Provincial Government has legislated responsibility for housing and offers both legislative tools and financial support. The Provincial Government is responsible for landuse planning legislation and associated strategies and plans that provide direction on growth management and the development of complete communities that provide for a range and mix of housing options. The Provincial Government also provides a framework for housing and homelessness services in Ontario, through the Housing Services Act. Funding support from the Provincial Government is provided to Service Managers to manage local housing needs.
The Region of Halton as the upper tier municipality is the designated Service Manager and is responsible for the funding, planning, delivery and administering of government assisted housing programs and services for Halton residents. Through the Comprehensive Housing Strategy, the Region articulates its strategic directions and actions to carry out its role under the Housing Services Act. Halton Region, through its Official Plan establishes Region-wide housing policies and targets to which the local municipal official plan must conform.
The City of Burlington as a lower tier municipality does not have any direct responsibility for housing. However, Official Plan policies, zoning, the development application review process and municipal strategies can be used to create a supportive environment for the delivery of a range and mix of housing options.
Non-Profit Organizations and Cooperatives provide subsidized housing as well as emergency shelters and transition housing. It often supports social justice causes and may target particular groups such as seniors or those with physical or developmental challenges.
The Private Sector, which is comprised of landowners, developers, builders, investors and landlords, respond to market demands and deliver ownership and for profit rental housing.
Individuals may purchase investment properties that provide rental accommodation at market rates. Some homeowners create additional residential units within their homes or on their property which can be a source of affordable rental housing.
Endorse the proposed terms of reference for Phase 1 of the City’s Housing Strategy attached as Appendix A to community planning department report PL-02-21; and
Authorize the Director of Community Planning to engage consultants through a request for proposal process to carry out the Phase 1 work, in accordance with the above noted proposed terms of reference; and
Direct the Director of Community Planning to develop and implement an engagement plan informed by feedback from the project steering committee, project working group and identified stakeholders; and
Direct the City Clerk to run an expression of interest with members of Council regarding serving on the Housing Strategy working group and report back at the appropriate time; and
Direct the Director of Community Planning to continue to refine the scope of work in regard to milestones and timelines for delivering concrete, actionable recommendations to Council that can be implemented within this term of Council as set out in Vision to Focus 2018-2022 and report back by early Q2 2021 (SD-04-21); and
Direct the Director of Community Planning to coordinate and implement an initial community engagement event intended to introduce the Housing Strategy initiative to residents and key stakeholders in the community in an effort to seek public input as to how the community would like to collaborate on the Housing Strategy, in keeping with Council’s commitment to IAP2 and our Community Engagement Charter and report back by early Q2 2021 (SD-04-21); and
Direct the Director of Community Planning in developing the draft engagement plan for the Housing Strategy, to include collaboration with all levels of government with a role in housing. (SD-04-21)
MAYOR MEED WARD’S TAKE:
We need to move this forward. The folks who need affordable housing are here in Burlington now. The young couple who is just starting their family renting an apartment who want to buy their first home. The senior looking to downsize to a condo unit but can’t find one and while ensuring they still have money leftover, because we know condos are outrageously priced. The young adults looking to leave their parents’ home to help increase their independence. These are some of the people who live here now and we want and need to talk to. I’m quite confident that we can reach them through the City’s engagement strategy.
I want to thank Planning staff for all the work they’ve done on this and Counc. Shawna Stolte who has spent months thinking about this and the motion she brought forward at committee she brought forward asking staff to report back earlier to Council and begin the engagement process with the public sooner. This is true collaboration.
Housing is one of the three crises of our time. The fact that affordability is no longer linked to income, that supply is taken up by investments. We don’t do it all at the City but we do have a role. This strategy carves out our role and ensures we play it to the fullest. This strategy will ensure we identify the right partners (like the Region and upper levels of government) and stakeholders we need to connect with. It will also ensure that we do not leave a single stone unturned in helping our residents and future residents make one of the most important decisions of their lives and that’s finding aa place to live.
- Staff report: PL-02-21 City’s Housing Strategy
- Staff presentation: PL-02-21- Staff Presentation
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*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist