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Ottawa pro-housing group happy with Housing Task Force's plan to tackle rising local house prices

The Make Housing Affordable group says that if Ottawa doesn't address the housing problem now, then the City will have roughly the same number of homes available per person in 25 years.
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Toronto realtors can now publicly disclose the sale price of homes. (iStock)

The City of Ottawa is standing by its local planning process after a report by the province’s Housing Task Force made over 50 recommendations to increase the number of homes and make housing more affordable in the province. 

The recommendations set out in the report, however, strips the authority from local planners, the City says, in several of the 55 recommendations outlined by the Ontario government addressing housing affordability. 

However, some of the recommendations made in the report would strip authority from local planners, the City said.

The City alleges that the recommendations don’t take into account local context considerations and creates barriers to participation in the development approval process.

But something needs to be done, Dean Tester of the pro-housing advocacy group Make Housing Affordable says. 

Because as it stands now, the future of Ottawa’s housing market isn’t looking promising.

“We’ve been lobbying to City Council to basically commit to building more housing,” Tester told The Sam Laprade Show on Monday, March 7. “The City of Ottawa has a huge housing shortage compared to the G7 average for countries and cities like Ottawa. We have to build about 70,000 homes overnight just to be an average city. We’re so far behind where we need to be and prices have doubled in the past five years — in February alone this year, they are up over 20 per cent.”

Anybody who doesn’t already own a home right now, Tester said, is struggling to get into the housing market. 

But the shortage of housing doesn’t only impact the sales market, but the rental market as well. 

“That’s what happens when you have a shortage of housing — everybody gets pushed down the line,” he said. “Everybody’s really suffering.”

Tester said he’d love to see City Council take action to build more homes for people in the city — to give others just starting out a chance.

Make Housing Affordable started during the official planning process for the City, Tester explained. 

The City has an official plan for the next 25 years, and after looking at that plan, Tester alleges it was a plan to essentially “keep things the same.”

“When you put the numbers and you do the math, we’re going to have about the same number of houses per person as we do now, 25 years from now.”

And while everyone has a part to play in addressing skyrocketing prices in the housing market, Tester says the City’s zoning process is what creates delays, especially when it comes to anyone wanting to build a single family home.

The City also has a reluctance to intensify in neighbourhoods and the public consultations that also contribute to the slow down, Tester adds. 

But the task force, Tester explains, comes with the intentions of building houses at double the rate over the next decade. 

“To City Council I would say, ‘You have the ability to solve this problem and you had time to do it and instead, you’ve been happy with the status quo.’ he said. "So, I’m really happy with the proposal the province has put forward.”

Listen to the full interview with Dean Tester of the pro-housing advocacy group Make Housing Affordable on The Sam Laprade Show. 

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