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MoneyUse surplus public lands 'more aggressively' to create affordable housing, researcher says

06:35  30 april  2019
06:35  30 april  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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A Ryerson University researcher is calling on governments in Ontario to be more aggressive in using surplus public land to boost the supply of affordable housing . Petramala, senior researcher at Ryerson University's Centre for Urban Research and Land Development, said governments should

Often surplus city property is sold to the highest bidder, permanently removing public land from public ownership and shrinking available spaces for affordable And it would create opportunities to develop site control - where to place housing - for more community-driven affordable housing development.

Use surplus public lands 'more aggressively' to create affordable housing, researcher says© Frank Gunn/Canadian Press Steve Clark, Ontario minister of municipal affairs and housing, says the sale of the land at 26 Grenville St. and 27 Grosvenor St. shows that the government is committed to creating affordable housing.

A Ryerson University researcher is calling on governments in Ontario to be more aggressive in using surplus public land to boost the supply of affordable housing.

Diana Petramala, is a co-author of a new report, "Governments in Ontario Making Headway in Using Surplus Lands for Housing."

Petramala spoke to CBC Toronto on Monday, the same day the province announced the sale of a parcel of land in downtown Toronto partly for the construction of affordable housing.

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Poorly designed programme to sell off surplus public land has failed to boost housing supply, says “The objectives of its land disposal programmes are chaotic and confused. We are baffled that the The MPs said the housing ministry has still not collected data on how many affordable homes

Revenue from land value is one of the most popular approaches. How to secure affordable Land - use planning can influence the cost of affordable housing ; planning policies can also make 389, imposed a ceiling for rents charged to low-income people living in public housing projects, and

She says political will is needed to improve the range of housing options in the province, but a "significant" amount of surplus public land is already available for redevelopment.

That land could be used to build affordable housing, if sold or leased to developers at below market value, in exchange for the provision of affordable housing, she said.

"There's still a lot more room to do more," Petramala said. "A lot of this land offers the possibility of high density. You can get more housing units per parcel of land than you would from the private sector."

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Petramala, senior researcher at Ryerson University's Centre for Urban Research and Land Development, said governments should identify vacant land owned by crown corporations and government agencies that could be used to create mixed-use communities.

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Many properties have considerable problems with regards to improper bounding, miscalculations in past surveys, titles, and others. Also many properties are created from multiple divisions of a larger piece over the course of years, and with every additional division the risk of miscalculation increases.

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In Toronto, for example, land for affordable housing could come from under-utilized or unused LCBO and the Toronto District School Board buildings, she said.

"When you get full commitment from your city, you can achieve high levels of affordable housing."

Use surplus public lands 'more aggressively' to create affordable housing, researcher says© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Google Street View

Petramala said the need is great. "We have a huge wait list in terms of the number of people waiting for subsidized housing. Housing has become quite unaffordable in Ontario," she said.

"People who don't have homes put pressure on social services and that has a cost to it as well."

Province sells parcel of land in Toronto for $36M

Her report was released on the same day the government of Premier Doug Ford announced the $36-million sale of a parcel of land in downtown Toronto, which includes 26 Grenville St. and 27 Grosvenor St., in part to make way for affordable housing.

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"The study recommends that public entities have to locate affordable housing where public transit is available or offer transportation subsidies so people "Affordability is a misnomer if you don't consider additional costs associated with a housing location," Ellin said . "Dr. Hamidi's study illuminates these

The surplus procedure (SP) is a fair division protocol for dividing goods in a way that achieves proportional equitability. It can be generalized to more than 2=two people and is strategyproof. For three or more people it is not always possible to achieve a division that is both equitable and envy-free.

The sale of the nearly one-acre property was initiated by the Kathleen Wynne government in 2017.

The government sold the land, near Yonge and College streets, for $36 million to Greenwin Inc. and Choice Properties REIT, Toronto developers that are proposing to build two towers on the site.

Currently, the properties include a low-rise parking garage and a building that formerly housed the Ontario chief coroner's office.

The development will have a minimum of 700 "purpose-built" rental units, of which 30 per cent, or more than 200 units, will be affordable rental housing for a period of 40 years, according to a news release by Greenwin Inc.

Stephen Johnson, President and CEO of Choice Properties, said in the Greenwin release: "Our intent is to create a landmark project that will make a positive contribution to the community."

According to Petramala's report, the site was sold at below market value to allow up to 844 rental units to be built. Of that number, 257 will be affordable rental units.

Use surplus public lands 'more aggressively' to create affordable housing, researcher says© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Supplied

Revenue from the sale will help to fund government programs and will save the government $260,000 each year in operating and maintenance costs, the government and consumer services ministry said in a separate news release.

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Research seeks answers to questions; it is the systematic collection and interpretation of data undertaken in a controlled and objective manner. Public relations research is important for assessing campaigns and PR messages, and measuring communication effectiveness.

The most advanced sustainable and affordable housing projects I saw while travelling are fundamentally driven by governments that strongly believe in the importance of environmentally sensitive planning and building, and the provision of housing for all.

Minister says land given 'brand-new purpose'

Steve Clark, Ontario minister of municipal affairs and housing, said the sale of the land shows that the government is committed to creating affordable housing.

"We are giving this unused land a brand-new purpose and bringing much needed rental and affordable housing to Toronto's downtown core," Clark said in the government news release.

"We will continue working with our municipal partners, non-profits, home builders and other experts to build more housing near transit and services so that everyone can find a home that meets their needs and their budget."

According to the Greenwin news release, the property was acquired as part of the Provincial Affordable Housing Lands Program, created to use provincial land assets for the development of market and affordable housing across Ontario.

Petramala, for her part, said the government could have asked for more affordable housing units as part of the sale.

"I would like to see their lands being used more aggressively for affordable housing," she said.

'There is still more room' for governments to act

In her report, authored with Ryerson University professor David Amborski, she says: "While all levels of government have made a significant amount of surplus lands available for development, there is still room for opportunity."

The report says the best way for governments to increase the supply of affordable housing is to sell surplus public lands at below market value, or to lease the land, with the requirement that any redevelopment include affordable housing.

Among other things, the report calls on governments to:

  • Draw up an inventory of public lands owned across the province.
  • Identify under-utilized lands owned or leased by crown corporations and government agencies that could be used for mixed-use communities.
  • Enable municipalities to weigh the costs and benefits of selling public land at market value versus selling at below market value in exchange for the provision of affordable housing.

The Ontario Real Estate Association and the Ontario Home Builders' Association financed the report.

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