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FORUM: Ford boosts sprawl, brings in meek renter protections (April 2023)

August 8th, 2023 · No Comments

Annex area renters face a very specific risk

By Jessica Bell

The Conservatives have just introduced some good, bad and ugly legislative changes that impact renters and how we plan and build for our future.  Here’s the lowdown. 

The government’s Housing Bill 97 allows the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to not just weaken and eliminate municipal rental replacement bylaws—which is the power they gave themselves in Bill 23—but also strengthen them, which is a modest improvement.  

Toronto’s rental replacement bylaw requires developers to return that tenant to their rent-controlled apartment at about the same rent after construction of the new bigger condo and properly compensate a tenant during construction. 

This law affects the thousands of our neighbours who live in big purpose-built rentals around Spadina, St. George, Walmer, and Prince Arthur.  Eliminating or weakening rental replacement bylaws will make it far cheaper for landlords and developers to set their sights on these buildings and convert them to luxury condos. The affordability of our riding is at stake. 

It is essential we pressure the province to bring in a strong provincial rental replacement bylaw and permit municipalities to set their own strong standards. The Annex Residents’ Association and local renters’ associations are working with us to protect these tenants. 

In a positive move, Bill 97 also doubles the maximum fine for violations under the Residential Tenancies Act, requires landlords to get a report justifying that renovations can only proceed if the tenant leaves, and gives tenants up to six months after renovations are complete to apply to the Landlord Tenant Board for justice if a landlord refuses to let them move back in, which is their right.  

Currently, the tenants only have up to two years to file a complaint which means a landlord can just extend the renovations beyond two years and get away with an illegal eviction.  

The residents of 11 Walmer, who have been waiting for years to return to their renovated apartments, could benefit from this change. 

The Conservatives, however, have failed to fix the massive loophole of enforcement. 

For a landlord to be fined, a tenant must be a volunteer private investigator and good Samaritan for at least a year to make a case to the Landlord Tenant Board. 

Successful tenants never get their home back because a landlord can just move a new tenant in, and the maximum compensation tenants get is modest: moving expenses and any additional rent they had to pay for a year. 

Since the tenant gains very little from fighting an illegal eviction, the landlord almost never gets fined. To curb illegal evictions, this enforcement loophole must be closed by bringing in stronger rent control and government enforcement of eviction.  

In a shocking move, the Conservatives have proposed to radically rewrite Ontario’s planning laws to double down on building more expensive and unsustainable sprawl. 

The Conservatives are rewriting official plans and forcing municipalities to open thousands of more hectares of farmland to development, and they are giving municipalities permission to more easily expand their urban boundary and permit more development on farmland in the future. 

The Conservatives also want to eliminate density targets that municipalities need to meet in areas already zoned for development.

These radical planning changes could turn the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area into a concrete jungle of highways and low-density, expensive single-family homes that are shockingly expensive for municipalities and taxpayers to service with infrastructure.  

Our climate change targets will go up in smoke. 

Our office, as well as organizations like Environmental Defence and Greenbelt Promise, are effectively organizing to say no to sprawl and yes to protecting our farmland, our Greenbelt, and building the 1.5 million homes we need in areas zoned for development. 

Please connect with us if you want to know more or wish to get involved.  

Jessica Bell is the MPP for University-Rosedale and the Official Opposition’s Housing Critic. She can be reached at 416-535-7206. 


Tags: Annex · Opinion