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Burlington Council Looks at Inclusionary Zoning in City’s Housing Strategy

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At our Jan. 11 Community Planning, Regulation & Mobility (CPRM) Committee meeting, we received a staff report providing an overview of the Inclusionary Zoning policy tool and regulations as set out in the Planning Act as well as a review of various Inclusionary Zoning programs in Ontario, Canada and the U.S.

Additionally, the report also provided details about the next steps in the City of Burlington Housing Strategy Project.

At our Council meeting on Jan. 18, we approved receiving and filing the community planning department report PL-03-22 regarding the City of Burlington Housing Strategy, Inclusionary Zoning initial report, attached as Appendix A.

Read the:

MY TAKE:

I truly appreciate the work from the Housing Strategy Task Force that’s gone into this report and the Housing Strategy Project Plan, and there’s a lot more to come. I believe as a city, we have to look at the Inclusionary Zoning tool and we can implement it in a ‘made-in Burlington’ way that satisfies what we’re looking for and the needs of our community. We will only achieve affordable and attainable housing through partnerships. We need policy tools and management tools, as well as all levels of government working together. The gap that we see between what’s affordable and what people can pay — there’s a cost associated with closing that gap, and not one single entity (level of government or stakeholder) can pay for it. Where we can implement Inclusionary Zoning in the City of Burlington, we will. We will get to a made-in Burlington solution because we have the right individuals around the table locally putting it together.

WHAT IS INCLUSIONARY ZONING?

Inclusionary zoning (IZ) is a policy tool available in many jurisdictions across Canada, the U.S. and beyond. Generally, Inclusionary Zoning is a policy tool that can be used to mandate or incentivize developers to provide affordable housing units. In Ontario, Inclusionary Zoning is a planning tool that enables municipalities to secure affordable housing units as prescribed in the Planning Act.

Section 16(4) of the Planning Act contains express permission for municipalities to implement Inclusionary Zoning under the provisions as outlined in Section 35.2 of the Planning Act. These provisions have existed since 2016, when the Province of Ontario passed the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016 (through Bill 7). Since then, there have been a number of legislative and policy changes that have impacted the implementation of Inclusionary Zoning.

The Provincial Regulation for Inclusionary Zoning (Regulation 232/18) outlines what the City must address in its Official Plan policies for Inclusionary Zoning and the information that must be included in the Municipal Assessment Report. The Municipal Assessment Report must include information related to housing need and demand and the potential impacts of inclusionary zoning on the housing market and on the financial viability of development. Provincial legislation requires that the City update this report every 5 years.

On September 3, 2019, the Province of Ontario made changes to the legislation for inclusionary zoning through Bill 108, More Homes, More Choice Act. Based on this legislative framework, the Planning Act restricts where in a municipality Inclusionary Zoning can be applied to Protected Major Transit Station Areas and areas where a Community Planning Permit System has been ordered by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

WHERE CAN INCLUSIONARY ZONING BE APPLIED IN BURLINGTON?

In the City of Burlington, the Inclusionary Zoning policy tool can be applied in its three Protected Major Transit Station Areas (PMTSAs): Aldershot GO, Appleby Go and Burlington GO. These areas have been identified as PMTSAs through the approval of Regional Official Plan Amendment 48 by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and cannot be appealed.

Protected Major Transit Station Areas are a municipal tool that support higher order transit infrastructure around Major Transit Station Areas. The tool restricts appeals of certain required Official Plan policies and zoning such as transit-supportive densities and uses. The City of Burlington is now in the process of developing policies for these areas. Currently, the City of Burlington’s Housing Strategy project and MTSA project teams are working together to examine the use of Inclusionary Zoning in the Protected MTSAs. Should the findings of the Municipal Assessment Report determine that the use of the Inclusionary Zoning policy tool is feasible in one or more of Burlington’s PMSA’s the implementing Official Plan policies will be completed as part of the MTSA project by June 2022 with the Zoning Bylaw Amendments and other implementation strategies to follow at a later date.

BENEFITS & LIMITATIONS OF INCLUSIONARY ZONING

The primary benefit of Inclusionary Zoning is that it can contribute to the increased supply of housing that is affordable to a broader range of income levels while continuing to encourage market housing development by supporting a diverse range of housing supply to create a more inclusive, complete and equitable community. It also provides an opportunity to increase this supply without direct government funding.

The Inclusionary Zoning tool is limited in Ontario in that it can only be applied within PMTSAs where the Municipal Assessment Report demonstrates that the tool would be financially viable from a market perspective. The results of the Municipal Assessment Report could find that Inclusionary Zoning may not be an appropriate tool in one or all of Burlington’s PMTSAs from a market perspective; and may require phasing in over a longer period of time in order to account for and address market viability.

Further, there may be challenges regarding the resources required to implement and monitor the Inclusionary Zoning Official Plan and Zoning by-law policies as well as the management of the affordable units over the long term.

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A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made. As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington. The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

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