June 19, 2018
By Arianne Robinson
Mayor John Tory’s Executive Committee voted unanimously for the creation of a standing committee dedicated to affordable housing issues in Toronto.
If passed, the new committee will begin meeting next term starting December 1 and will replace the Affordable Housing Committee and the Tenant Issues Committee (both not standing committees), as well as all housing and shelter items currently heard at the Community Development and Recreation Committee.
Tory told reporters on Tuesday morning he believes a committee dedicated to affordable housing and shelter will be a force for change.
“We’re pushing ahead with the creation of a new standing committee on housing to ensure that the city hall decision-making process has a laser-like focus on housing issues,” Tory said.
“I think, over time, this has been more difficult because responsibility has been dispersed across to a number of areas and so I believe that the creation of this housing committee will help direct more resources in our city government to the housing file, and help us to dramatically increase the amount of affordable housing that we approve and build.”
At Toronto City Hall, each city councillor must sit on standing committees meant to be the place for substantive policy debate (as stated in the city’s municipal code).
Councillors at the Executive Committee spoke in favour of the establishment of the committee.
“One of the biggest challenges in our city is housing,” Councillor Ana Bailão said, chair of Affordable Housing Committee. “It’s not only a shelter crisis, it’s not only a social housing crisis, it’s at different points of the spectrum. [There are] young graduates that can’t afford to rent or to buy something in the city of Toronto. This is what we’re dealing with.”
“We don’t have quite the vision that needs to be had with respect to this important issue,” Councillor Michael Thompson said, chair of the Economic Development Committee.
“We really need to put in place obviously the apparatus to demonstrate our seriousness with respect to housing [and] housing issues, and that has an impact on all … we need to ensure that those young professionals, millenials that are out there now [and who are] not able to see a vision for themselves in the future where they can actually have what I think many of us now take for granted. I think that is a responsibility of the city. That is a responsibility for government to work with industry.”
Toronto City Council will consider the creation of a new standing committee on housing at next week’s council meeting, which will be the second last council meeting of this term.