Ford gov’t targets housing crisis, but suburban residents concerned about intensification

Andy Kohut has been living in Kanata South for four decades.

“When we moved into the area we didn’t think intensification would come,” said Kohut.

Down the street, a multi-unit building has just been built. Over the next decade, more could be seen throughout the capital region after the Ford government announced a new housing plan to help solve Ontario’s housing crisis.

“We are encouraging more density by giving property owners the right to build up to three residential units on those lots,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark on Tuesday. “These are just some of the ways more homes build faster will unlock more housing.”

The goal is to build 1.5 million homes in ten years, with Ottawa expected to build 161,000 new houses by 2031. That means building up density near transit stations, and waiving or cutting some fees developers pay.

This plan will also override local municipal zoning to allow up to three homes on one residential property. That includes basement apartments, garden or laneway houses, and duplexes and triplexes in existing homes, as long as the same square footage is kept.

“Not to complain, but before you add more houses do you have the infrastructure? Do you have the roads?” said Ottawa resident Sean Fagan.

The Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association says the housing plan would ensure there are enough options for residents.

“Unless we step up to build these 15,000 homes a year, on average, we’re going to have this structural housing shortage,” said executive director Jason Burggraaf.

Some homeowners in Kanata are upset that an apartment building now is part of their residential neighbourhood.

“The community was very upset about the new build of intensification,” said Hayley Bennett, president of the Katimavik-Hazeldean Community Association. “The height, the size didn’t fit with the existing character. We lost some major trees and the concern with parking.”

“I’m not opposed to intensification, but it has to be in the right place,” said Kohut. “In my neighbourhood, I don’t think it’s particularly the right place.”

The new housing plan, pending Queen’s Park approval, will be in place for the summer of 2023.  

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