Earlier this year, the average home price in Renfrew County reached the half-million-dollar mark. The number of homes up for sale is at record low numbers, and even rental units are hard to come by in the region according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Moose FM asked the candidates running for election in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke what they and their parties would do to address the affordable housing crisis.
John Yakabuski, Progressive Conservative candidate and incumbent MPP, says under the PC government, Ontario has seen the highest number of rental builds since the early 90s. He says that while his government is on the right track, it is a challenge only made worse by the pandemic. Yakabuski pointed to two pieces of legislation put forward by his party that would accelerate the building of affordable housing, and both times the opposition parties have shot it down. He adds that his government is working with the County of Renfrew to create housing. Yakabuski says any party that claims they can fix this problem overnight is not being honest. He believes that it is a challenge that all levels of government must address, and he’s willing to do so if re-elected.
Oliver Jacob, the Liberal candidate, says housing is one of the issues that has become worse in the past three to four years. Back in 2018, he says the current government eliminated rent control on new builds. Jacob says the province has seen the impacts of that decision over the last few years, with landlords using loopholes like “reno-victions” to skirt legislation, all the while seeing no increase in affordable housing. Jacob says the Liberals would bring back rent control, and build 1.5 million homes in Ontario. They will develop the Ontario Homebuilding Corporation, which will build homes for first-time homebuyers, and not for the private sector investors. Jacob is also a supporter of Inclusionary Zoning, which he says is a community-first approach to making sure communities create affordable and accessible housing.
NDP candidate Kurt Stoll says they also want to bring in rent control for all housing. They also want to bring in a rule saying that new tenants of a unit will pay the same price as the previous ones. Stoll says the NDP wants to close the loophole on speculation buying. While there is a 20 percent tax on speculation for foreign individuals and corporations, Stoll says the NDP will expand that to domestic corporations. Finally, Stoll says they want to build more affordable housing stock and restore the powers of municipalities so the planning for that housing is done properly.
Green Party of Ontario Candidate Anna Dolan says her party will make blind bidding illegal, which she says is driving up home prices. They also plan to build affordable housing.
Kade MacWilliams, Ontario Party Candidate, says his party wants to cut the red tape around building houses. He says with the average permit fee hovering between $10,000 to $30,000, cutting red tape will make the market more competitive to build houses and bring prices down. He adds the Ontario Party would put a moratorium on foreign buying in Ontario, making sure non-citizens would not be able to purchase property until prices are under control. MacWilliams also wants to make it easier to convert single-family homes into multi-unit spaces, which would provide affordable housing and give landowners a stream of income.
Thomas O’Connor, Candidate for the New Blue Party of Ontario and Murray Reid, Candidate for the Ontario Provincial Confederation of Regions Party, were unavailable for comment.