Jennifer Keesmaat makes first announcement about rental housing

10:09 a.m. Former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat speaking to media at her first announcement on her mayoral platform.
10:09 a.m. Former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat speaking to media at her first announcement on her mayoral platform.

August 7, 2018

By Arianne Robinson

Jennifer Keesmaat made her first campaign announcement on Tuesday morning, making a commitment to improve housing affordability in Toronto for renters if she’s elected mayor.

“Today I’d like to speak directly to the 47 per cent of Torontonians [households] who are renters in this city,” Keesmaat said on the rooftop of a downtown building. “In the last four years under John Tory, has housing affordability gotten better for you and your family, or has it gotten worse?

“Today I am committing to building 100,000 units of truly affordable high-quality housing within the next 10 years,” Keesmaat said, adding she will make this idea “not an afterthought, but the core of the mandate of CreateTO [the city’s newly formed real estate arm].”

Keesmaat concluded her remarks with her commitment to a new kind of leadership.

“We can make make housing affordable for everyone. We can do so much more than just talk,” she said. “Over the coming weeks I will roll out the detailed costing of this commitment to real affordability for Toronto. A plan that is bold, and a plan that is achievable, and that represents the kind of change that Toronto needs now – that Toronto needs today. Together, we can build a city with homes that we can all afford.”

Keesmaat believes there are a number of ways she thinks housing affordability can be improved, including using city lands and city owned real estate, ensuring the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s rental housing construction financing program prioritizes affordable rental housing construction, and using funding from the federal National Housing Strategy to build new purpose-built rental units.

Asked by one reporter for her comment on property taxes, following John Tory’s announcement last week committing to keep property tax increases at or below the rate of inflation, Keesmaat did not answer..

“What I’m talking about today in my housing plan is about rental and it’s about speaking to the nearly half of Torontonians that rent or those who want to rent – who can’t access the city because they can’t get into rental today. That’s what this commitment is about today, and I will be rolling out a full plan over the course of this week that touches on all of the parts of housing in this city that are necessary for a city like ours to thrive.”

Subscribe to Signal Toronto’s Weekend Newsbrief