City council approves motion forcing developers to build more affordable units

By Quintin Bignell

Council members on Tuesday approved a motion that would force developers to build more affordable units. City staff say the move could result in more than 17,000 new affordable units on the market by 2026.

The Inclusionary Zoning Policy would require developers to make between five and 10 per cent of new units affordable in 2022. By the year 2030, the bylaw requires as much as 22 per cent of new units to be affordable. The city estimates roughly 42,000 units are under construction right now.

The new rules would focus on three zoning areas in the city. It applies differently to buildings with a minimum development size of 100 units.

Under the plan, rental and ownership prices will be based on an individual’s household income rather than average market costs.

The framework has been in the works at city council for the past decade and some housing advocates say it doesn’t go far enough.

“This is not the solution for the housing crisis we’re having right now, but it’s an excellent tool,” said Alejandra Ruiz Vargas, of the housing advocate group Acorn. She was one of over a dozen people outside of City Hall (pictured below) on Tuesday morning calling on city councilors to bolster the Inclusionary Zoning plan.

Acorn would like to see developers be required to make 20-30 per cent of new units affordable. “It’s not going to cost the city one dime, and it’s going to bring thousands of affordable units through the years,” said Vargas.

According to city officials, over 230,000 units were built in Toronto over the last five years. Only two per cent of those units were considered affordable or had an average listing price.

The cost of units created under the new plan will not exceed 30 per cent of someone’s salary. The program is targeting those with an annual income of between $32,486 and $91,611

How much is an affordable unit?

Toronto’s official plan defines affordable rental housing rates in 2021 as:

  • Bachelor unit: $1,211
  • One-bedroom unit: $1,431
  • Two-bedroom unit: $1,661
  • Three-bedroom unit: $1,887


Before the motion was approved Tuesday, Mayor John Tory spoke out in favour of the plan.

“The long-term health of the city itself and its economy requires that our development industry should play an increasing role in the supply of affordable housing,” he said, adding that the “new affordable housing zoning policy is the right thing to do, and it is a welcomed step forward.”


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