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Candidates Q and A: Addressing housing affordability

Candidates from the four major parties were asked to respond to questions about key issues in the upcoming provincial election
File photo

GuelphToday asked the candidates running for the four major parties in Guelph a series of questions about the upcoming election. Their answers will run nightly over the next two weeks. Responses were limited to 250 words. 

Tonight's question: 'What should be done to tackle the housing affordability crisis, both short and long-term?'

Raechelle Devereaux, Liberal

I’m really proud of the housing platform that the Ontario Liberal Party announced on May 9. A Liberal government will build 1.5 million new homes, including 138,000 under the social and supportive housing umbrella, and expand a Housing First approach for people experiencing homelessness. These commitments are important for Ontario, and for Guelph, where we are working collectively with the County of Wellington to end homelessness by 2023.

Guelph already has the seventh-highest rental rate in Canada, and we need to bring this under control immediately. A Liberal government will restore rent control to all homes across Ontario. 

We will create a new Ontario Home Building Corporation, a not for profit corporation established to work with local communities, not for profit housing partners and developers to build and maintain housing of all types.

We will also tax vacant homes, and land that has been “banked” to help target speculators, who tie up homes and property for profit while families struggle to afford – and find – a place to call home. 

James Parr, NDP:

In the short term, I would like to see improved rent control policies to ensure that new tenants pay what the last tenant paid, ending renovictions, and introduction of a speculation tax on homes. I also would love to see policies that bars corporations from buying up housing stock. 

In the long term, I believe we should work towards ending exclusionary zoning that result in car-centric subdivisions and instead promote people-centric mixed use zones that allow people to live, shop and work in their communities. 

I am excited to stand by the NDP’s plan to build at least 100,000 new affordable homes and 30,000 supportive homes over 10 years, extend the life of 260,000 affordable homes, and provide income supports for 311,000 tenant households.

Mike Schreiner, Green Party:

Housing is a human right. But successive governments haven’t acted like it. Ontario Greens produced a Housing Strategy that was called a masterclass plan by the Toronto Star. I’m proud to have been leading on this issue.

To immediately address the housing affordability crisis in Guelph and across the province we need to implement vacancy and rent controls on all units. And to expand zoning options to include triplexes, fourplexes and walk up apartments as of right. And an issue I know relevant to many of you here in Guelph, we need better consumer protections for home buyers.

Nearly a third of Ontario’s housing wealth is held by buyers who own multiple properties. In Guelph, the Star reported that 1 in 5 homes were owned by someone not living in them. Ontario Greens would implement a Multiple Homes Speculation Tax which would apply to new purchases of homes by buyers who already own two or more homes or condominium units. The tax would start at 20 per cent for the third home purchased and would increase with each additional property. Because homes are for living in.

And the province needs a real plan to address homelessness. Ontario Greens would build 182,000 affordable homes, including 60,000 permanent supportive housing spaces with wraparound health and social supports, like Guelph’s Kindle, Wyndham House and Grace Garden projects - which I will continue to push for provincial funding for. Everyone deserves a safe & affordable place to call home whether they rent it or own it.

Peter McSherry, Progressive Conservative: No response.