Corp Comm Connects

York Region gets $23 million in extra affordable housing funding from Ottawa, Queen's Park
July 13, 2016
By Lisa Queen

With more than 12,000 people on York Region’s waiting list for subsidized housing, an additional $23 million in funding from the provincial and federal governments announced Wednesday is welcome news, but not enough to solve the region’s affordable housing challenges, regional chair Wayne Emmerson said.

“Mr. Minister (new Housing Minister Chris Ballard), we’re going to be asking for more,” he said at the announcement at Tom Taylor Place in Newmarket. “We’re shovel-ready and shovel-worthy to go forward.

“It’s a good start. We can’t do everything ... We will do what we can with it.”

The region also wants to review its waiting list to determine the need of everyone on it, Emmerson said.

The region will now determine how best to use the additional funding, community and health services commissioner Adelina Urbanski said.

Some money will go to upcoming subsidized housing projects in Vaughan and Markham. A 160-unit building will be constructed on Woodbridge Avenue east of Kipling Avenue in Woodbridge, while a 250-unit building will be constructed on Hwy. 7, west of Main Street, in Unionville.

Regional staff will analyze where other funds will be allocated, Urbanski said.

“The new ones are ones we are just talking about now, but they haven’t gone to council for approval yet,” she said.

“We’re always in various stages of planning with projects, so when we say we are shovel-ready and we have projects ready to go, it means we’re in various stages of planning. Some haven’t come forward yet, but we’re looking at where property is available, how big might (the buildings) be, where is the next municipality. OK, we’ve built in Newmarket, we’ve built in Richmond Hill, we’re building in Markham - where’s the next location? Because all nine municipalities want affordable housing, so we have to make sure we provide for all our citizens.”

The region will look at the needs in municipalities such as East Gwillimbury, Whitchurch-Stouffville and King, which have little or no subsidized housing projects, Urbanski said.

Ballard, MPP for Newmarket-Aurora, and Newmarket-Aurora MP Kyle Peterson announced the additional $23 million in funding, with two-thirds coming from Queen’s Park and one-third from Ottawa.

That comes in addition to $45 million earmarked for the region through a joint $685 million investment from the federal and provincial governments to build and repair more than 15,000 affordable housing units and provide rental and down payment assistance to more than 16,000 families and individuals across Canada.

“The big issue is the money is flowing. That hasn’t happened in the past,” Ballard said.

“We have common priorities and by working together, we can help realize our vision that every person should have an affordable, suitable and adequate home to provide the foundation to secure employment, raise a family and build strong communities.”

The federal budget’s commitment to social infrastructure funding included $2.3 billion over two years for housing investments, Peterson said.

“These investments are both timely and strategic. In addition to achieving important social objectives, they will spur short-term economic growth,” he said.

“Investments in infrastructure create jobs for Canadians and generate spin-off benefits for the entire economy.”

Funding in the Investment in Affordable Housing program will double over the next two years, Peterson said.

“The provinces and territories will match this funding and will use it to invest in a range of affordable housing programs, including new construction, renovations and affordability assistance,” he said.

“These federal housing investments will also be delivered by the province. They will help build stronger communities across Ontario for current and future generations, while spurring short-term economic growth.”