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Inclusionary Zoning Gets Downsized in Ontario

Toronto housing activists and politicians say a draft policy doesn’t go nearly far enough to provide affordable housing.
A condominium building under construction in Toronto
A condominium building under construction in TorontoAaron Harris/Reuters

Politics in Ontario, as CityLab’s Richard Florida recently pointed out, has become something of a liberal lovefest, especially on issues of equity and inclusion. Long before Canada elected its feminist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the province of Ontario elected Premier Kathleen Wynne—the first woman and first openly gay person to hold the position, and a savvy politician. Her administration’s accomplishments range from expanding rent control to raising the minimum wage to implementing a basic income pilot in 11 cities and counties across the province. “At a time when … a large number of [U.S.] states [are] held by the GOP,” Florida wrote, “Wynne’s agenda is a model of more inclusive prosperity.”

One of Wynne’s legislative victories was the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, a law passed in December 2016. It contained a particular provision that got affordable housing activists dancing in the streets: The law authorized municipalities to implement inclusionary zoning, which requires developers to make a certain percentage of residential units available at below-market rates. Some 500 U.S. municipalities have enacted IZ policies as an antidote to expensive housing, but the tactic had never before been used in Canada.