I sent the letter below to the Waterloo Chronicle and they replied accepting it, but unfortunately they didn’t get it in this week. That means they haven’t yet given it a URL link I could have sent out on Twitter.
I am trying to launch a conversation about how we can tweak the zoning bylaws to create more affordable housing. Zoning Review is going on right now in all 3 cities in WReg, but the window for public input will soon close.
Please add your ideas and circulate this. And be sure to send comments to your city.
To the Editor, Waterloo Chronicle:
We had a lively meeting at the Rec Centre on June 9, organized by Uptown ward councillor Melissa Durrell, to discuss the new draft zoning bylaw. Everyone should see this new map. (See Waterloo.ca/ZoningReview)
Now’s our chance to let city officials know if we like or don’t like their proposed changes, and suggest our own (within some limits). Comments are open till July 4.
The neighbourhood associations present at the meeting expressed a desire for medium-rise zones to buffer traditional neighbourhoods from new high-rise development. They also wanted to see more local parkettes.
It was a revelation, for example, that high-rise developers were able to increase density in exchange for paying a parkland fee – but the parkland money went to beautify Waterloo Park, not to create green space in the neighbourhood where the fee was collected. But children and seniors need places to play, and meet their neighbours, close to home day to day.
Another topic that came up is affordable housing. The zoning bylaw presents many needless obstacles, for example by making it hard to create “secondary” units and Granny flats in residential neighbourhoods. Why don’t we facilitate this? The “free market” is failing to provide one-bedroom rental units that seniors and low-wage workers can afford.
Get rid of those stringent parking requirements. Allow some rental units to be designated as no parking. The people who need low-rent units usually don’t have a car.
Thanks to the work of outgoing Minister of Municipal Affairs Ted McMeekin, Ontario now allows cities to use Inclusionary Zoning. This means that new multi-unit buildings would have to include a designated percentage of affordable units. If all developers have to do it, then none can complain that they’re at a competitive disadvantage.
Waterloo should act now to adopt Inclusionary Zoning in the Uptown area, so that there will be some affordable housing that’s near transit.
There’s a lot we can do to build a more inclusive and friendly city, just by tweaking the zoning bylaws.
But it won’t happen until the officials hear from us!