MoneyCouncil to consider spending $12M on the creation of 651 affordable homes
Airbnb hosts, short-term rental critics facing off over regulations at appeal hearing
A years-long battle over how to regulate short-term rentals in Toronto is continuing this week at the province's Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, with some arguing the city's proposed rules are a "deflection" from policymakers' attempts to fix an ongoing affordable housing shortage. The regulations, which focus on the short-term rentals available through companies such as Airbnb and Vrbo, were approved by council in 2018. Multiple hosts appealed the rules before they could be put into place.
Toronto Mayor John Tory says a report to be considered by council in October will recommend that the city approve eight new development proposals that would create 651 affordable homes, but a housing advocate says the number is nowhere near enough.
Tory told reporters on Tuesday that the report recommends that city council spend more than $12 million to subsidize the projects and offer about $38 million worth of financial incentives under its Open Door Program.
Mayor John Tory wants to use rainy-day reserve funds to pay for policing initiative
Mayor John Tory wants to fund $1.5 million for additional policing efforts from one of the city’s rainy-day reserve funds after already promising the money without council consent. After announcing three levels of government would fund a $4.5 million, 11-week initiative to address gun violence by putting more officers into problem areas to do intelligence-led policing, Tory is asking the budget committee to approve the increased spending for this year as well as contribute $1.5 million from the city’s tax stabilization reserve fund to cover the city’s share.
Incentives from the city include breaks in development charges, building permits, planning fees and municipal property taxes. The combined average of these incentives is about $58,850 per home.
All eight proposals follow a call for affordable rental housing applications, between February and May this year, as part of the program, which was established to create more affordable rental housing in Toronto. Three of eight proposals are from non-profit housing organizations, Tory said.
The mayor said he knows the city needs "to considerably step up that pace" to create affordable housing but he is pleased with the eight proposals. They represent the results of the third annual Open Door Program call for applications. Construction of one site could begin next month.
Chilliwack city council rejects request for rainbow crosswalk, calling it ‘divisive’
Despite organizers collecting nearly 800 signatures, most of the councillors were not moved. "I've always taken the task of spending taxpayer dollars very seriously, and this is not an appropriate use of taxpayers dollars," Coun. Sue Knott said during Tuesday night's council meeting." Other councillors said painting a rainbow crosswalk in the community would be "divisive." "For me, is, where would it end?" said Coun. Bud Mercer. The city passed a policy directive in 2017 that forbids decorating crosswalks in a way that "support[s] political or religious movements or commercial entities.
"These are housing units that will come on stream in a reasonable period of time and we are looking for every opportunity in a variety of different ways to expedite that," Tory said.
Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão said the city understands the need is greater than what can be supplied.
"It is crucial that we continue to work to ensure that all residents of our city have a safe, comfortable and secure home," she said.
But Mark Guslits, an affordable housing advocate, architect and developer, said more affordable housing is needed in a city the size of Toronto. The announcement "chips away" at the problem, he said, but it cannot be solved without other levels of government.
"You end up with Toronto essentially by itself trying to fund some affordable housing and doing the best they can. But the amount of money that they have available is just not enough, given the enormous cost of building housing," Guslits said.
Canadian Judicial Council launches inquiry in conduct of Quebec Superior Court justice
MONTREAL — The Canadian Judicial Council says it will launch a public inquiry into the alleged conduct of a Quebec Superior Court judge. A five-member judicial conduct review panel looked at two separate allegations against Justice Gerard Dugre and decided they warranted an inquiry. In both instances, the allegations are not proven. One allegation involves a lengthy delay in rendering a decision in a divorce and family-related matter, rendered in late November 2018, more than nine months after the judge took the case under deliberation. The council says this was not the first allegation of a tardy decision, and it could demonstrate a pattern.
"The problem is just so enormous."
According to Tory, the report recommends that the homes built would stay affordable for a minimum of 30 years, and in some cases, in perpetuity.
Since 2016, a total of 6,694 affordable rental homes have been approved. Once the report is approved, the total number of affordable homes created through the program will be about 7,350 across the city.
In a news release, the city said the program is a combination of elements to address the affordable housing shortage in Toronto
"To fast track affordable housing, the Open Door Program brings together critical elements needed to kick-start affordable rental and ownership housing construction: surplus public land designated for new affordable rental and ownership housing; fast-tracked planning approvals through a gold star review process; additional city financial incentives; and federal and provincial funding," the release reads.
The report will be considered by the city's planning and housing committee next week.
HELOCs, refinancing helped fuel spending, Bank of Canada researchers say .
Canadian homeowners who accessed their home equity through a loan or refinancing helped fuel household spending in recent years, according to research by staff at the Bank of Canada. Household spending moved in a similar direction to home prices over roughly the past decade, with both rising sharply in 2016 and 2017, according to a staff analytical note by several of the central bank's researchers.Household spending moved in a similar direction to home prices over roughly the past decade, with both rising sharply in 2016 and 2017, according to a staff analytical note by several of the central bank's researchers.