TORONTO — NDP Housing critic Jessica Bell (University-Rosedale) is urging the Ford government to stop its threats to renter protections and to affordable rental housing in Ontario.
At a press conference held Wednesday, Bell addressed an alarming section of the government’s Bill 23 that threatens to eliminate Toronto’s rental replacement bylaw, which currently requires developers who demolish rental buildings with more than six units to provide replacements for the units they tear down.
Bell said the bill could lead to mass evictions and the loss of thousands of rental units in Toronto.
Bell was joined by Melissa Goldstein, an affordable housing policy analyst and tenant advocate; Samantha Ponting, a Toronto tenant whose building is slated for demolition and a coordinator with the Oakwood Vaughan Community Organization and Patricia Johnston, a local tenant.
“Ontario is in a housing crisis. People are being forced to leave their communities because decent, affordable places are increasingly out of reach,” Bell said. “Renters already live in precarity, in fear of the landlord raising the rent or using government loopholes to renovict them.
“Toronto’s replacement rule has been instrumental to protecting thousands of rental units from being converted to condos. Eliminating the rental replacement bylaw will make it far cheaper for landlords and developers to convert purpose-built rental buildings into condos.
"This could lead to mass evictions, a sharp rise in homelessness, and the loss of thousands of affordable private-market rental units.
“We should be strengthening protections for renters, not eliminating them. Building more homes must include diverse neighbourhoods with dedicated rental housing and housing people can afford, in neighbourhoods near their jobs and supports.”
The NDP has long been calling for housing solutions to address Ontario’s housing crisis, including:
- Ending exclusionary zoning outright, to allow more missing middle homes in existing neighbourhoods.
- Stronger rent control so renters can live in safe and affordable homes.
- Spurring the construction of new homes to meet the needs of current and future Ontarians, including more affordable homes and supportive housing.
- Clamping down on investor speculation so more Ontarians can buy a home they intend to live in.
- Establishing a public builder to build affordable homes, including affordable homes on public land.
Samantha Ponting, Toronto tenant whose building is slated for demolition and a coordinator with the Oakwood Vaughan Community Organization:
“I’m anxious and I’m scared. For myself and my community. The majority of my paycheques already go towards rent. My grocery bills are getting steeper. Those of us at risk of displacement can’t afford to pay unchecked rents. City bylaws that provide a right to return to tenants in situations like mine don’t undo the harm of eviction, but they help to tame it. The City isn’t just facing a housing crisis, it’s facing an eviction crisis.”
Melissa Goldstein, affordable housing policy analyst and tenant advocate:
"It would cost Canadian taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to build the rental housing that is currently being preserved through these regulations. Getting rid of these regulations won't fix our housing crisis, it'll make it much, much worse. The only winners would be the developers, who would get to stuff their pockets with even more money."