We worked closely with Councillor McKenney, Ottawa's Liaison on Housing and Homelessness, on having our city declare a housing and homelessness emergency, on a campaign calling for vacant hotels to be converted into affordable housing, and on seeing the city invest directly in the creation of affordable housing for the first time in years.
The city is slowly moving forward with introducing Inclusionary Zoning (IZ). IZ would force developers to make a certain percentage of proposed residential units affordable if they are building in proximity to ‘transit hubs’. The New Official Plan (OP) is what enables IZ to be implemented in Ottawa, and we were able to amend the OP to have a more ambitious target for affordable housing: upping it from 10-15% to 20% of all new residential development, and increasing the ratio thereof that will be realized through deeply affordable housing vis-à-vis ‘market affordable.’
A regulatory (permit) system for short term rentals or STRs (like AirBnB) will take effect in the near future (assuming the city will successfully defeat the ongoing industry appeal). One of the things driving up rent has been the spread of illegal STRs which eat up rental units meant to house long term tenants (and zoned for that purpose), and turning them into de facto illegal hotels. We wrote a more detailed update a while ago about this here.
The city is moving forward on is dealing with vacant/derelict buildings through stronger regulations. This is another example of something that prevents potential rentals from being on the market. We wrote an update on the city’s plans here—the city will be reviewing regulations on this issue this term of council, and we are hoping to see a permit system established here as a result as well.
The city is moving ahead with the development of a vacant property tax for residential units in Ottawa. You can read about that here. Such a vacancy tax would be one way to address the speculative investments driving up prices in the housing market.
Given our city continues to fall short on investing in affordable housing, we have tried to make gains at a ward level. Since coming to office we established an affordable housing fund for our Ward and have been able to either convince developers to voluntarily contribute, or have otherwise secured developer contributions via section 37 of the planning act (with hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked or deposited so far). These funds will be used to create non-market housing in Capital Ward, so that our Ward can be a place for everyone to call home.