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  • Writer's pictureChiara Greco

South Etobicoke Left Out of Inclusionary Zoning

Humber College researchers to team up with LAMP to address housing and affordability concerns in the neighborhood

photo credit: wix media

Chiara Greco, Nutgraf Press Creator

 

disclaimer: this article was written, submitted and graded for credit as part of course requirement (this article was written in October 2021)


South Etobicoke won’t benefit from new inclusionary zoning policy which requires some

affordable units in new condos even though the area’s vacancy rate has plummeted, it has one of Toronto’s highest rates of substandard properties and rents have soared.


Inclusionary zoning is a new policy that was put forth by Toronto City Council. The policy is meant to create housing for those earning too much to be eligible for social housing, but too little to afford the average price of rent. This policy only applies to areas within 500 to 800 meters of a subway, LRT or GO station. South Etobicoke is not one of these areas.


“We were not considered in the policy for one reason, because we are not on the main transit subway line. Just because we aren’t on the transit line doesn’t mean the problems just magically stop,” said Vanessa Keall-Vejar, a lead researcher at Humber College working on South Etobicoke’s housing issues.


Keall-Vejar, along with LAMP Community Health Centre, has just created a new group to

address solutions to the issues South Etobicoke is facing with affordable housing and

inclusionary zoning.


The new group plans to use community benefit agreements (CBA) as a legal tool to work with developers to ensure affordable units are included in every new condo and housing development built in South Etobicoke. CBA’s have been used before in Toronto, but not for affordable housing.


By using a CBA framework, the group will be able to “ensure community consultation is

included at every step of the building and development process,” said Keall-Vejar.


High-rise condos currently being built at 351-365 Royal York road are just one example where researchers have put this CBA tool to the test by planning community meetings with developers to ensure that affordable units, mixed units and green space are all included in the new condo’s building plan.


“When developers are coming into South Etobicoke, our group will also be there to advocate for a bigger piece of the pie,” Keall-Vejar said.


She adds, “South Etobicoke is a hotbed of ridiculous problems,” and there is still more research to be done to develop a baseline for affordable housing and shelter.


South Etobicoke currently has a rental vacancy of 0.8 per cent. Along with this, “there is a huge disparity in affordability, people are paying nearly 45 per cent of their wages,” said Keall-Vejar, “this means people are sacrificing other areas of their lives which is a problem.”


This problem is at the forefront of Jasmine Dooh’s mind. Dooh is a health and community

relations specialist at LAMP and is working alongside Humber College Researchers.


“With the gentrification of Toronto more people are discovering South Etobicoke and how

beautiful it is, this gentrification has led to housing prices and rents rising,” said Dooh, “if the property is worth more, then it means that people who've lived there for a long time are being asked to pay rents there's no way they can afford.”


For Dooh, inclusionary zoning is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. This is why Humber College has suggested a CBA framework.


“Our residents don’t need affordable housing, we need deeply affordable housing,” said Dooh.


A life-long South Etobicoke resident is just one of those who are in need of deeply affordable housing. This resident has lived in the area for all her life but is only recently experiencing the effects of housing issues.


“The City is ignoring South Etobicoke, we have the highest amount of substandard housing, and it is inexcusable what the city is doing with this policy,” said that same resident.


Mark Grimes, the councillor for Ward 3 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore), said in a statement, “Residents should not feel excluded by inclusionary zoning. We are doing everything we can to ensure affordability.”


Keall-Vejar’s research group will continue to meet each week to talk with community members and develop strategies for affordable housing going forward.



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