June 20, 2016
Author: John Fox
The next step in the City’s new Open Door Policy happens today (June 20) at City Hall when the Affordable Housing Committee meets to discuss a staff report implementing the Open Door Program (Link Below). Among its most important initiatives is creating a kind of “Nexus” line for projects with Affordable Housing included in them.
Housing advocates will know that the City set a target of delivering 1000 affordable rental units and 200 ownership units a year in its Housing Opportunities Toronto Plan 2010-2020 – usually referred to as the HOT Plan. The City is behind on its goals and the initiatives in the report I is intended to support the City efforts in making up the gap.
One of the ways the City is looking to do that is to move affordable housing projects through the system faster through the “Open Door Service”. This service creates a kind of “Nexus Line” for projects containing affordable housing units. It is modelled on the existing “Gold Star” service for Business and is a case managed approach to planning applications. The intent is to shorten timelines on projects that contribute to the City’s Affordable Housing objectives.
The proposed eligibility requirements include (from the Staff Report):
The first point of entry into the Program appears to be the Affordable Housing Office, with City Planning ultimately playing the case management role once the eligibility requirements are confirmed by the Affordable Housing Office.
We will be keeping an eye on this as the program develops. Time is money and the concept that the City should move developments that help it meet its goals has certain logic to it. However, there are – as always – some interesting questions: While the report deals with both rental and ownership, the Nexus Line criteria are only related to rental. Does ownership also qualify? If staff time and resources are finite, does this necessarily mean that developers without affordable components are likely to be waiting longer?
Let’s see how this policy evolves as it moves through the committee process and stakeholders make their deputations.
Link to Staff Report: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2016.AH5.2