THE REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF PEEL
Thursday, September 17, 2009
To hold a Public Meeting pursuant to Section 17 (15) of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, as amended, to inform the public and to obtain their input with respect to a proposed amendment to the Regional Official Plan (ROPA 23) as it relates to the Regional housing strategy.
1. ROLL CALL
E. Adams*, F. Dale, G. Carlson, C. Corbasson, G. Gibson, A. Groves, N. Iannicca, E. Kolb, K. Mahoney*, H. McCallion, S. McFadden, G. Miles*, E. Moore, P. Mullin*, C. Parrish, M. Prentice*, P. Saito, J. Sanderson*, A. Thompson, R. Whitehead*
S. Fennell; M. Morrison, due to illness; P. Palleschi, due to a personal matter; R. Paterak, due to other municipal business, J. Sprovieri
D. Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer; K. Hale, Acting Commissioner of Employee and Business Services; D. Labrecque, Commissioner of Environment, Transportation and Planning Services; N. Trim, Chief Financial Officer and Commissioner of Corporate Services; J. MacCrae, Acting Commissioner of Human Services; J. Smith, Commissioner of Health Services; Dr. D. Mowat, Medical Officer of Health; P. O’Connor, Regional Solicitor and Director of Legal and Risk Management; J. Payne, Deputy Clerk; John Britto, Legislative Specialist
2. OPENING OF PUBLIC MEETING
Regional Chair Kolb called the public meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. in the Council Chamber, Regional Administrative
Headquarters, 10 Peel Centre Drive, Brampton. He stated that the public meeting was open and was being held pursuant to
Section 17 (15) of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, as amended.
Regional Chair Kolb stated that if a person or public body does not make oral submissions regarding this Amendment at this public meeting or does not make any written submissions before this proposed Official Plan Amendment is adopted by the Regional Municipality of Peel, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) may dismiss all or part of an appeal.
3. CONFIRMATION OF NOTIFICATION
Jeff Payne, Deputy Clerk stated that Notice of the Public Meeting was given in accordance with Section 17 (15) of the Planning Act, R.S.O 1990, as amended, by publication in the following news media:
Brampton Guardian – August 26, 2009
Mississauga News – August 26, 2009
Caledon Enterprise – August 27, 2009
Caledon Citizen – August 26, 2009
Councillor Mahoney arrived at 9:36 a.m.
Councillor Miles arrived at 9:36 a.m.
Councillor Mullin arrived at 9:36 a.m.
Further, it was noted that Notice of the Public Meeting was posted on the Regional website as of August 26, 2009 (www.peelregion.ca) and the Draft Official Plan Amendment was available to the public on the website as of the same date.
Councillor Adams arrived at 9:37 a.m.
Councillor Whitehead arrived at 9:37 a.m.
4. FURTHER NOTICE REQUEST
The Regional Chair stated that if any person would like further notice of the future passage of this proposed Regional Official Plan Amendment (ROPA), that they should give their full name, address, postal code, and telephone number, in writing, at the Clerk’s reception counter prior to leaving the meeting.
5. STAFF PRESENTATIONS
a) Arvin Prasad, Director, Planning Policy and Research, Environment, Transportation and Planning Services, Regarding Proposed Regional Official Plan Amendment 23 (ROPA 23) as it Relates to Regional Housing Strategy
Councillor Prentice arrived at 9:40 a.m.
Arvin Prasad, Director, Planning Policy and Research, outlined the proposed Regional Official Plan Amendment (ROPA) with respect to housing policies. He stated that the Regional Official Plan was adopted by Council in 1996. The Planning Act requires consideration of a review every five years. The Regional Official Plan Strategic Update was completed in 2001. The current review being proposed is that of provincial conformity to Places to Grow, the Provincial Policy Statement and Bill 51 which introduced sustainability as a matter of provincial interest.
Arvin Prasad noted that the Regional Official Plan review has an overarching theme of sustainability. The review has fifteen focus areas, of which regional housing is one focus area. Section 1.4 of the Provincial Policy Statement states that municipalities are required to establish and implement targets for housing affordability for low and moderate income households. Municipalities are to permit and facilitate all forms of housing required to meet the social, health and well-being requirements of current and future residents, and new housing has to be directed to locations with adequate infrastructure and public services.
Arvin Prasad noted that Section 126.96.36.199 of the Places to Grow legislation requires upper and single tier municipalities to develop a housing strategy in consultation with lower tier municipalities, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and other appropriate stakeholders. The housing strategy must set out a plan, including policies for official plans, to meet the needs of all residents of our community. Places to Grow also encourages the creation of secondary suites in built up areas. The Regional Official Plan requires the development of a housing strategy as one of the policies in the plan.
Arvin Prasad noted that Regional Council has undertaken significant consultation, including the release of four discussion and background papers, a draft housing strategy and open houses. Regional Council has a long history of efforts to address housing issues in the Region include the:
Arvin Prasad stated that “Affordable Housing” as defined by the Provincial Policy Statement relates to low and moderate income households paying less than 30 per cent of their annual income on housing costs and rents. In the Region of Peel, 71 per cent of owners and 57 per cent of renters fall in this category. However, 18 per cent of owners and 24 per cent of renters pay 30 to 50 per cent of their annual income on housing; and 11 per cent of owners and 19 per cent of renters pay more than 50 per cent of their annual income on housing. This means that 1 in 5 tenant households and 1 in 10 owner households spend more than half of their annual income on housing. This results in increased pressure on the Region to provide more emergency shelters – low to moderate income households to transitional housing and group homes.
ROPA 23 proposes various policies to bridge the gap between the growing demand for affordable housing for low and moderate income households and its current supply.
Councillor Sanderson arrived at 9:55 a.m.
Arvin Prasad commented on the following five major policy areas:
Affordable Rental and Ownership Housing: The Region of Peel would benefit from an increase in the supply of affordable rental and ownership housing in the community. To accomplish this, the Region, in consultation with area municipalities and stakeholders, is proposing to:- encourage the area municipalities to permit secondary suites, where appropriate;
Retaining Rental Housing Stock: The Region of Peel requires an adequate supply of rental housing to meet existing and projected needs. In order to accomplish this, the Region will ensure appropriate area municipal official plan policies are in place to regulate the conversion of rental housing and prohibit the demolition of existing rental units without replacement.
Energy Efficient Housing: The Region of Peel proposes to promote the use of energy efficient designs and technologies in new and existing dwellings. To accomplish this, the Region will encourage the area municipalities to consider additional green standards beyond the minimum Ontario Building Code provisions, and advocate for sustained incentives from other levels of government for energy efficient housing projects.
Housing Options for Diverse Population: The Region of Peel proposes to ensure a range of housing options and services for all residents in the community. In order to accomplish this, the Region will:- encourage special needs housing to situate in areas with existing infrastructure, amenities and support services;
Barriers to Access Housing: The Region of Peel proposes to address issues related to socio-economic barriers to housing for Peel households. In order to accomplish this, the Region will ensure regionally funded affordable dwellings are located in areas with access to services and amenities, and facilitate the development of new and improved income supports.
Moving forward, Arvin Prasad stated that the Region of Peel continues to collaborate with area municipalities on a regular basis. The Province has advised that an Affordable Housing Initiative will be released. The Region will work closely with the Province to ensure that our interests are relayed to them. The Region will continue to review comments received on the proposed amendment, revise the amendment taking into consideration the comments received, and report back to Regional Council in October 2009.
Arvin Prasad informed that information and updates regarding the Proposed Draft Regional Official Plan Amendment (ROPA 23) are available on the Region website at: www.peelregion.ca/officialplan.
6. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
a) Oral Submissions
i) Elizabeth Gormley-Cox, Resident, Discussing the Inclusion of Definitions from the Residential Tenancies Act and Conditions Needed to Limit Overcrowding
Elizabeth Gormley-Cox stated that her comments were directed to the goals that are on the Region’s website relating to group homes; emergency shelters; transitional housing; secondary suites; single room occupancy accommodation; rooming; and boarding and lodging houses.
She stated that the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, as amended, provides for the adjudication of disputes and for other processes to informally resolve disputes.
Ideally, all types of new housing would be governed by legislation.
A person with special needs may not be able to satisfactorily resolve an issue because currently there is not a safe process to address complaints. Without the legal protection of legislation, anyone who is viewed to be a complainer may risk becoming homeless. Because of the shortage of affordable housing, some persons who are dissatisfied with one or many aspects of their housing arrangement are reticent or even fearful to speak to the housing issues that affect them. The Residential Tenancies Act offers hope that disputes can be informally resolved without resorting to legal action. This is important for those classes of people who do not have the resources or the ability, time, money, or transportation to bring their issues before a court of law.
Ms Gormley-Cox noted that the Residential Tenancies Act is not included as one of the drivers of the proposed ROPA 23. Regional consultations and surveys with stakeholders about what the issues are, until now, did not include the general public that must live with the results. The proposed ROPA 23 addresses mainly physical policies, but has ignored the reality that secure housing is not only a physical benefit but also a legal one. To qualify for protection under the various laws that could apply, housing itself must meet certain requirements.
Ms Gormley-Cox stated that after living for many years in a group home in Mississauga, she spent two years looking for an alternative place to live in the area but found nothing that would meet the criterion of affordability at 30 per cent of income. She suggested that “affordability” should probably be redefined.
Ms Gormley-Cox stated that, in her experience, affordable housing does not meet the criteria to be covered by the Residential Tenancies Act. “A Guide to the Residential Tenancies Act,” prepared by the Landlord and Tenant Board states that the Act does not apply if the tenant must share a kitchen or a bathroom with the landlord. At some locations, she also saw variations on the sharing of laundry spaces and entries. Although not all shared accommodation has this flaw, it would be impossible for some tenants to lead independent lives due to the unavoidable interconnectedness of the structures they live in. She stated that, for most of these spaces which were poorly designed for their purposes, it should not be surprising if the occupants have feelings of oppression and overcrowding.
Ms Gormley-Cox stated that in reading the proposed ROPA 23, she discovered that important definitions found in the Act do not correspond or get any mention. For example, there are specific rules that govern a Care Home, but the term "Care Home" is not used anywhere in ROPA 23. There is mention of group homes, boarding homes, transitional homes, and shelters, but since the term “Care Home” is not directly incorporated into the vision of ROPA 23, it leaves a gap for someone who might have recourse to the Residential Tenancies Act.
Ms Gormley-Cox suggested that by revisiting and updating the definitions to be consistent with existing legislation would provide clarity.
Councillor Mullin requested that staff provide clarification and comments with regard to the Residential Tenancies Act. Councillor Mullin further requested staff, when reporting back to Regional Council, to note responses to the issues related to the care homes that were referred to by the delegate. She noted that the definition of "affordability" has been discussed in the past and the Region should request that the Province look at redefining the term "affordability", taking into consideration the points raised by the delegate.
ii) Sam Ward, Resident, Discussing Discrimination, Limitations and Difficulties in Finding Suitable Housing for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Sam Ward discussed the various difficulties that he and others who use guide dogs experience when seeking housing. He stated that many landlords are reluctant to consider people with disabilities or service animals, as potential tenants, due to perceived challenges. He used, as an example, a Professor in his college who was not able to find her way around the campus, even though she was employed with the college for a number of years. He stated that these were reasons why people had negative feelings about blind people; however he stated that most blind people are quite independent.
Sam Ward suggested the need for a "watchdog program" that spells out exactly what discrimination is and prevents people from discriminating against blind people. Mr Ward stated that most landlords seem to think of blind people as helpless and they don’t like the idea of having a guide dog in their apartment. He further stated how blind people are taught to take care of their guide dogs.
Sam Ward stated that the ultimate goal would be to have Canada, as a country, nationally outlaw discrimination against the blind. He further stated that it would be very favourable for the Region of Peel to take a lead in this regard.
Councillor McCallion inquired whether the Region of Peel has any specific housing policies related to blind people.
Jeff MaCrae, Acting Commissioner of Human Services, responded that he is not aware of any special consideration for the blind in the Region of Peel's housing policies or procedures.
Regional Chair Kolb stated that the Region of Peel provides many apartments, like the Chapel View apartments in Brampton, with special arrangements for persons with disabilities. Regional Chair Kolb further stated that the Region works very hard to make sure that there is no discrimination.
Regional Chair Kolb thanked Sam Ward for his presentation and for discussing the housing issues faced by blind people in the community.
Councillor Saito thanked the two delegates for their presentations. Referring to the presentation by Sam Ward, Councillor Saito stated that she and Councillor Mahoney, as members of the City of Mississauga’s Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC), are aware of the CNIB and their level of assistance to the blind. The AAC works very closely with the CNIB on various housing and other policies that come forward through the new Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
Councillor Saito stated that there may be very little that the Region can do with regard to issues faced by blind people seeking housing through private landlords. Councillor Saito stated that the AODA and provincial legislation needs to take precedence in this matter. Councillor Saito suggested that a response from the Region of Peel's Accessibility Advisory Committee on this issue would be helpful.
Councillor Parrish suggested that an increase in the availability of private rental and secondary suites could possibly avoid such discrimination issues.
iii) Shirley Vanden Berg, Resident, Discussing Discrimination, Limitations and Difficulties faced by the Blind and Visually Impaired in Finding Suitable Housing
Shirley Vanden Berg stated that the main problem with the private sector is that persons owning private homes that rent out to other parties are not held accountable. She indicated that Peel Regional Police have a significant backlog of collecting information and accounts of fraud in this sector. The big problem in housing in the private sector is the abuse of paperwork dealing with real estate, mortgages, tenancy, etc. The Region should perhaps empower the Regional Police to adequately deal with private parties and persons who abuse the existing systems and laws currently in place.
b) Written Submissions
i) Thomas McKay, Constable Crime Prevention Services, Peel Regional Police, Email dated July 10, 2009 Advising that Peel Regional Police have No Comments Regarding Proposed Regional Official Plan Amendment 22
ii) Jason Afonso, Planning Department, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, Email dated July 20, 2009 Advising that the Board has No Concerns or Objections to the Proposed Amendment to the Region of Peel Official Plan Housing Policies
iii) Grand Chief Randall Phillips, Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, Letter dated July 22, 2009 Acknowledging Receipt of Proposed Regional Official Plan Amendment 23 and Providing Comments
iv) Jennifer Lawrence, Manager, Environmental Planning, Conservation Halton, Email dated July 31, 2009, Acknowledging Receipt of Proposed Regional Official Plan Amendment 23 and Advising of No Comments from Conservation Halton
v) Mary Hall, Director of Planning & Development, Town of Caledon, Report dated August 4, 2009, Providing Comments on Proposed Regional Official Plan Amendment 23 – Housing Policies
vi) Jeannette Gillezeau, Senior Director, Economic Consulting, Altus Group, Letter dated September 14, 2009, Providing Comments on the Proposed Regional Official Plan Amendment 23 - Housing Policies
vii) Lisa Grbinicek, Senior Strategic Advisor, Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC), Letter dated September 12, 2009, Providing Comments on the Proposed Regional Official Plan Amendment 23 – Housing Policies
viii) Colin Chung, Partner, Glen Schnarr and Associates Inc., Letter dated September 16, 2009, Providing Comments on the Proposed Regional Official Plan Amendment 23 – Housing Policies
7. CONCLUSION AND CLOSING OF PUBLIC MEETING
Regional Chair Kolb advised those in attendance that comments and submissions will be taken into consideration and a final report and supporting by-law will be considered by Regional Council at a future meeting.
Regional Chair Kolb officially closed the meeting at 10:17 a.m.