Volume 94, Issue 26

Tuesday, October 17, 2000


BOG candidates take the stage at forum

Police nab York stalker suspect

Love Inc. finds no love in low turnout

BOG candidate faces election fines

The London front almost quiet

Baryshnik raising student concerns

Funded housing now under municipalities

Corroded Disorder

Funded housing now under municipalities

By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

The Ontario housing industry is booming, but low-income housing construction remains in a deep freeze to the dismay of critics who say the issue needs immediate attention.

Dave Henderson, director of industry relations for the Ontario Home Builder's Association, said he felt excess bureaucracy is keeping the private sector out of low-rental housing. Henderson said high municipal development charges have been one of the issues which has had a negative impact.

"The construction and development costs have to be taken into account in any type of project," he said. "Everything has to balance out."

Henderson said the provincial government has a responsibility to work with the municipalities to make it easier for the private sector to enter the rental housing sector.

Amanda McWirter, media-spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, confirmed the Tory government eliminated government subsidized housing construction shortly after being elected in 1995.

"We don't believe public money should go into bricks and mortar," she said. "It should go into the hands of the people."

McWirter said the provincial government transferred the financial responsibility of social housing to the municipalities because they can better represent their communities.

She added full administrative responsibility for housing will be placed in municipal hands this fall.

McWirter said the government realizes there is a problem in the rental housing sector and is seeking co-operative ways to encourage the private sector to become involved.

She said municipal governments can help the situation by providing tax incentives for the private sector to develop affordable housing.

Despite eliminating government subsidized housing construction and rent controls, McWirter said, the Tory government has introduced numerous initiatives to help the situation.

Still, Greg deGroot-Maggeti, socio-economic concerns coordinator for the Citizens for Public Justice, said rental housing in Ontario has fallen into deep crisis.

"The heart of the problem is found in the Tories putting too much faith in the market to deliver affordable housing," he explained. "We shouldn't cast the private sector into a bad light. Housing is a public responsibility."

Rob Panzer, director of planning for the City of London, said the waiting list for social and low-income housing has increased within the city.

"Any municipality would say it's inappropriate for municipalities to be funding housing needs from the property tax base," he said.

Panzer said he defended municipal development fees, explaining all municipalities assess charges on housing projects. He said the money goes to update and expand city services and facilities.

"Growth should pay for growth," Panzer said. "Rather then existing tax payers."

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