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Q&A: Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte candidates on housing

BarrieToday contacted Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte candidates to hear what they have to say on a series of topics ahead of Thursday's provincial election

Editor's note: BarrieToday contacted all of the candidates in the Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte (BSOM) riding to hear what they have to say on a series of topics ahead of Thursday's provincial election. Each candidate was asked to provide a 150-word response. Here is what they had to say about the housing situation. 

Doug Downey, Progressive Conservative:

Everyone deserves to have a place to call home. Our PC government has introduced legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to help build new homes in Ontario. We are fixing barriers to building new homes, while protecting health, safety, the environment, the Greenbelt, and agricultural lands.

Our housing supply plan helped over 100,000 new homes start construction last year, the highest in more than 30 years. We are unlocking the development of all kinds of housing – from missing middle duplexes, triplexes, and townhomes, to highrises and family-sized rentals, to single-family homes.

Our Housing Supply Action Plan proposes smart, targeted policies that will make housing fairer for hardworking Ontarians, and get housing built faster for families who want and need them.

This includes increasing the Non-Resident Speculation Tax rate to 20 per cent, expanding the tax to apply provincewide, and closing loopholes to fight tax avoidance; and requiring municipalities to provide timely approvals.

Jeff Lehman, Liberal:

Housing and affordability has been the top concern I’ve been hearing at the doors.

An Ontario Liberal government will work to build housing for everyone – including rental apartments, housing for seniors and vulnerable populations. We will also work to strengthen protection for tenants through bringing back rent control and building the missing middle.

We’ll also establish the Ontario Home Building Corporation which will work with local partners and communities to build and maintain affordable homes of all types – helping our first-time home buyers reach their goal of owning a home closer to their support systems.

Hayden Hughes, New Blue:

Many people are focused on housing prices as if that is where we should be focusing, but the fact of the matter is that we have an affordability issue in all aspects of life.

The provincial government has control over HST, influence on carbon tax, and the ability to reduce electricity rates.

The New Blue Party platform aims to focus on all of these issues, while striving for economic growth.

I could say, "I pledge to get more houses built, and increase housing subsidies.” However, what it truly comes down to is addressing the issues that are increasing the cost of home ownership in our area. 

We need to address the whole picture, rather than simply focus on affordable housing, which is affordable living.

Gerry Auger, Ontario Party:

The Ontario Party's platform on addressing the housing affordability issue would be to limit if not prevent foreign investors from buying property.

Property owners would have to be either landed immigrants with their permanent residency status established; or Canadian citizens; or Indigenous-born Canadians. This would reduce the demand to those established in Canada and encourage landed immigrants to move forward with their PR and citizenship status.

Currently we are inviting 500K new immigrants to Canada and another 500K students, meaning we need to prepare for over 300K of new homes every year just to keep up with immigration, not to mention current PRs and citizens saving to move in to their first home.

Current construction numbers are hovering just over 200K.

Elyse Robinson, Green:

We will invest $1B/year to build 182,000 affordable community rental homes, including 60,000 supportive homes with wrap-around supports over the next decade.

We will also extend financial support to 311,000 Ontario households via the portable housing benefit.

Additionally, we will freeze urban boundaries, build 1.5M homes and expand as-of-right zoning to provide people with more choices such as triplexes, fourplexes, and walk up apartments.

We will also launch a province-wide “Yes in My Backyard” initiative to address NIMBYism and raise awareness on the benefits of infill missing middle, mid-rise and community housing developments in existing neighbourhoods. And we will reinstate rent controls on all units to regulate rental increases year-to-year, implement vacancy control to limit rent increases between tenancies, and strengthen rules and penalties for bad faith evictions.

Beverley Patchell, NDP:

The NDP have a plan to support both renters and those who want to own the ability to access housing they can afford.  

An NDP government will update planning and growth policies to enable affordable missing middle housing options like duplexes town houses and walk-up apartments. 

A new public agency will be created to build affordable and non-market homes over the next decade to be operated by public, nonprofit and co-op house providers. This means affordable homes charging rents geared to income as well as non-market homes charging below market rent. 

Our platform includes rent control with additional tenant protections.  We will put rules in place to cut down on speculation and greed to stop back speculators from driving up the cost of housing beyond the reach of regular families. There will be new protections to support first-time home buyers including new consumer protection and a down payment assistance plan.