These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of news and changes for housing in Ottawa.
First and foremost a New Mayor and City Council. As a mayoral candidate Mark Sutcliffe committed to the target of building 100,000 new homes over the next ten years, creating a housing task force to focus on affordability, and streamlining and quickening the development approval process.
Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, introduced a number of measures to freeze or reduce city-imposed costs on new housing, encourage the building of rental and more affordable homes, allow converting a single-detached home into a multi-unit building that can house two or three families, and mandate that municipalities provide sufficient zoning around transit stations in a more-timely manner.
The province also gave Ottawa a housing target of 151,000 new homes over the next decade.
Finally, the approved Ottawa Official Plan reversed Council’s decision to limit minor corridors (like Fisher Ave) across the City to 4 storeys, and expanded the urban boundary, to increase Ottawa’s housing supply.
GOHBA and its members want to get to work right away in partnership with the new mayor and all of council to achieve our housing goals, so that residents of Ottawa will have a better and more affordable supply of homes.
We want to help the City take advantage of the new planning and regulatory space created by Bill 23 and the OP to achieve our collective housing goals.
It’s going to need a whole-of-city approach – every department, every policy, and every staff person will need to look at what they do through a housing availability and affordability lens.
The number of homes available is a fundamental factor in the affordability of homes. The City has to reflect on what it does to facilitate, and impede, the number of homes being built.
Increasing our housing supply has to be a corporate-wide goal of the City. And no doubt Ottawa is in a better position today than it was before to have enough housing for its residents in the future, but we need to remain focused, and not afraid of bold action.
We all knew that increasing the supply of homes and achieving our City’s housing goals would take a lot more than just tweaks to our current approach to planning and growth – it would take radical change. Bill 23 and the OP are providing the opportunity for that change.
This can be a once-in-a-generation moment of transformational change for the availability and affordability of homes if we let be.