Ford delivered a devastating attack on tenants: NDP | Rare Techy
Ontario’s official opposition is asking the province to drop parts of its new housing plan because the NDP says it will weaken tenant protections and further reduce the supply of affordable rental properties.
NDP housing critic Jessica Bell said Ontario’s new housing plan proposal would allow the province to limit the powers of municipal rent replacement laws. These policies protect tenants in the event their rental unit is demolished. Bylaws in Toronto and Mississauga mean developers must offer tenants financial assistance and the right to return to a replacement unit in a new building.
“[Premier] Doug Ford wants to make it easier for developers to evict tenants by the hundreds and turn those affordable rentals into luxury apartments,” Bell said. [the bill] are potentially catastrophic for housing affordability.”
Last week, Ford announced his government’s new plan to build new homes in Ontario. He has set ambitious targets for municipalities to ensure the province meets its overall goal of building 1.5 million new homes over ten years.
The legislation has yet to be passed and includes sweeping changes to development rules in Ontario, in part to incentivize builders. But the bill has also raised concerns among local government leaders, conservation agencies and tenant advocacy groups.
A spokeswoman for Ontario Municipalities Minister Steve Clark said part of the solution to the province’s housing crisis is to ensure more rental properties are built.
“While a municipal bylaw may be intended to preserve affordable rents and protect tenants, it can limit the supply of rental housing and lead to the deterioration of the housing stock,” Chris Poulos said in a statement.
“We are launching a consultation to find out how we can protect the supply of our rental housing stock while promoting the building of much-needed rental housing,” he added.
The opposition demands a review of the plan
Bell called the proposed changes to rent-replacement bylaws a “devastating attack on renters” and said it would hurt Ontario’s already dwindling supply of affordable housing. He said the province should review the entire plan.
“We are calling on the Ontario government to develop a comprehensive housing plan to make housing affordable in Ontario,” Bell said. “This plan must include building more homes, more supportive homes and affordable housing, curbing investor-led speculation and better protection for tenants.”
Patricia Johnston, who also spoke at the press conference, lives in a Toronto apartment complex, the redevelopment of which is currently being negotiated between the city and the developer. He has lived in the building for 17 years and said the government’s proposal could leave him homeless.
“The building I’m in has a lot of seniors on fixed incomes who are worried they have nowhere to go,” he said. “And now we’re being told we won’t get a compensation package or we won’t get a refund when we put up a new building. I don’t see where this bill represents or helps affordable housing.”
Melissa Goldstein, a housing policy analyst, said Toronto’s rent-replacement bylaw prevents such situations and is considered the best in the province. It requires anyone proposing to demolish six or more residential units, at least one of which is rented, to get city approval. The developer must offer tenants financial assistance and the right to return to a replacement unit at approximately the same rent.
He said the rules have preserved more than 900 rental units in Toronto this year.
“Getting rid of these regulations will not solve our housing crisis,” he said. “It will make things much worse and the only winners would be the developers, who will be able to stuff even more money into their pockets.”