Digging in: Housing Supply and Demand
August 22, 2023
Ensuring that our residents have access to affordable and adequate housing is a top priority for Council - and there are plenty of timely examples of how we’re working to increase the supply of housing in our city.
During the August 15 Council meeting, we received a staff presentation on the Housing Supply and Demand analysis, which detailed our community’s current and expected future housing needs. We see that while single-family detached homes continue to be the dominant form of new construction in the City, we will need more compact and lower-cost options like townhomes, semi-detached, and condominium apartments to meet rising demand over the coming decade. Moreover, the report demonstrated a high demand for rent-geared-to-income housing and other affordable rental units.
While the City is not in the business of constructing housing itself, the report recommends that we investigate strategies to increase the supply of new rental housing by the private sector. To do so quickly, council also directed staff to create a new financial incentive program that would offer developers short-term property tax relief for multi-residential buildings along strategic corridors.
Using the successful Tax-Increment Equivalent Grant (TIEG) model, this proposed incentive would make it more economically appealing for developers to build condominium and apartment buildings. Further, by identifying eligible locations that already have the infrastructure – like water and sewers, utilities, roads and transit – to support development, these kinds of incentives can get shovels in ground and units built faster.
The city will also set a housing supply growth target, to be included in our application to the federal Housing Accelerator fund this month. Council and staff continue to actively seek external opportunities for funding to assist in this critical and timely work. In fact, many of the reports and policy updates that are part of the Housing Supply Strategy have been supported by the provincial Streamline Development Approval Fund Initiative; details of these projects were shared with council last month.
Later this year, Council will receive a report from staff regarding options for the regulation of home-sharing and short-term rental accommodations. Many housing advocates have raised the concern that short-term rentals like these displace units that could otherwise be available for longer-term local tenants. It is also important to consider how we can encourage rental properties to be good neighbours, and ensure these arrangements are safe for both providers and users.
There is still a lot of work to be done, but I am optimistic that we are on a good path to collectively address our local housing needs. Next month, the Future-Ready Development Services Committee will launch its public consultation sessions about development services processes, and I look forward to continuing to work together on our made-in-Greater Sudbury Housing Supply Strategy. We will continue to leverage opportunities to collaborate with other levels of government; we know that the province of Ontario is serious about building more houses, and the recent creation of a new federal Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities sends a promising signal about Canada’s intentions to directly support municipalities as they address our national housing crisis.
To me, the time is right to forge ahead. Together, we are making good things happen here.