The cost of housing is a crisis in the whole GTA, including Markham.
Reid seconded the motion for Council-endorsement of a strategy to implement a range of tactics to drive the development of new affordable housing.
Reid also champions the establishment of a city-owned, self-funding, non-profit development corporation to drive development of underused City land for affordable housing.
This same corporation could also be used to guide development of city-owned employment land (meaning jobs!) in the future urban area north of Elgin Mills Road and west of Warden Avenue.
For more information, register and check the YourVoiceMarkham.ca webpage.
Student Housing in Ward 3
York University Markham is scheduled to open in September 2023. This is a major step forward in the development of Markham as a desirable place to live, work, play and study!
But the university will not come without its challenges. One we may face is affordable housing for students. The University is working with the private sector to commission at least one privately-operated student residence building. Other private residences may also appear.
But the experience around other university campuses is not encouraging with many illegal rooming houses and bad student behaviour.
Recently Reid initiated a public Student Housing Forum to identify issues and potential solutions presented by the presence of 4000 students in our community (and even more in the future). At the first event Oshawa City Councillors shared their experience with Ontario Tech University (formerly UOIT).
Reid was also happy to second a motion at Council to direct city staff to research the topic and present options to Council as to proactive policies the city can put in place before a problem appears or escalates. Rental licensing and incentives for more purpose-built student housing seem like potential responses to the issue.
There is much more to learn and Reid will continue to work with the community to proactively prepare for the arrival of York students.
Seniors Housing in Unionville
The Unionville Home Society provides essential long-term care for residents of Unionville. They have entered into a partnership with York Region and Minto, a developer to redevelop a large part of their campus immediately adjacent to the Unionville Heritage Conservation District. The result is a 12-story 166-unit affordable seniors housing building, called Unionville Commons, now nearing completion. In 2023 Minto will begin construction of approximately 120 market townhomes on the northernmost portion of the campus, in place of the current seniors cottages.
Reid is a member of the Community Liaison Committee that meets regularly to update affected residents of the area, including residents of Wyndham Gardens and owners of homes around the campus. The CLC is also designed to make sure their concerns are heard. During the construction of Unionville Commons Reid communicated regularly with York Region and the construction contractor to address issues of noise, dust, vibration and construction traffic. It is anticipated that similar issues will arise during construction of the townhomes. Reid is already in touch with Minto to address issues of tree cutting, drainage and privacy fencing.
Other non-profit projects recently approved include the Lang Yi Hildebrand project on Highway 7 and a new Mon Sheong Long Term Care facility in Ward 2. Reid supported approval of the Lang Yi Hildebrand development. While the building is higher than anyone would prefer (14 stories along Highway 7), it will provide over 1000 units of relatively affordable and supportive seniors housing.
While Reid generally opposes the use of Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs), Reid did support the MZO used to fast track the development of the non-profit Mon Sheong Long Term Care facility.
Vacant Home Tax
Vacant homes are often poorly maintained and take away from the vibrancy of fully-populated neighbourhoods. Absent investors gain on the back of local residents. And they remove from the market viable housing options that could be used to address, in a least a small way, the affordable housing shortage.
A similar tax in Vancouver has successfully driven over 30% of empty homes into the housing market. Toronto will soon be implementing a VHT and Ottawa is also researching the option of a VHT.
York Regional Council voted to direct their staff to report back on the feasibility of a vacant home tax. Only one member of Regional Council voted against it. They are currently conducting research on the topic. You can respond to the Region’s survey here.
Reid proposed (moved) a motion at committee, seconded by Ward 4 Councillor Rea, to implement a tax on vacant homes in Markham. It was defeated by a majority of councillors, many of whom seemed more concerned by the so-called “rights” of investors over the rights of residents. Reid looks forward to the York Region report and will raise the issue again during the new term of council.