Moratorium Supported at Community Meeting
Forty people attended a community conversation organized by the McCauley Community League on July 27 at Sacred Heart Church to discuss housing in the neighbourhood. The conversation was to get community feedback concerning the upcoming end to the City of Edmonton’s moratorium on non-market housing (subsidized; government-funded) for the League to take to an Executive meeting of the City that was originally scheduled for August, but was moved to September 15.
Lively conversations were had around three large tables. The League presented three questions for discussion: how housing in McCauley can be improved to better support people’s visions of the neighbourhood; three priorities about housing in McCauley that need to be told to City Council; and what have been the positive and negative effects of the moratorium in McCauley over the past three years.
Each of the three tables came up with three priorities for City Council, to make a total of nine. They were:
1. Enforce existing bylaws on condition of housing – increase property taxes on poorly maintained properties.
2. Create a community-owner real estate and development corporation.
3. Advocate change to the Municipal Government Act (provincial legislation) to require 5-20% affordable housing units in private developments. Don’t allow cash or land swapping in lieu of meeting requirement.
4. Inclusionary zoning policy (to give teeth to the Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty which distributes affordable housing): e.g. 5-20% affordable housing in new developments.
5. Exclusionary Zoning.
6. Grant programs for rehab should be more accessible.
7. City should get tougher on the physical condition of houses. Let’s try to spruce things up!
8. City to develop affordable and supportive housing in other neighbourhoods. Work to get the province on board.
9. Develop a range of social supports in other neighbourhoods. McCauley can share some of our expertise on how to do it well.
At the end of the meeting, a vote was held asking those in attendance if they supported continuing the moratorium on non-market housing in McCauley. Twenty-eight voted in favour of continuing the moratorium while 12 voted against.
“It was terrific, with over 40 residents having conversations about their ideas to improve housing in McCauley,” says Phil O’Hara, McCauley Community League Vice-President, on how he felt the meeting went. “People had some really good ideas that will be shared with City Council in August. The vote to keep the moratorium suggests people felt it had been working in McCauley and perhaps the four alternative actions the City is proposing aren’t clear.”
The recommendation from City Administration to City Council for the September 15 meeting is to end to the moratorium due to lack of evidence to justify its continuation, as it only applies to City-funded non-market housing projects and is not effective in addressing concerns surrounding privately-owned market housing. Instead, the City is recommending the adoption of a series of alternative actions created through the Realizing Housing Potential initiative with regard to housing conditions, choice, stability, and connections.
“Realizing Housing Potential conducted neighbourhood housing research and engaged with stakeholders between Jan 2014 – Jul 2015 in all five neighbourhoods under the pause. The results of these activities are neighbourhood-specific housing actions intended to create positive change in the neighbourhoods,” says Jessie Singer, City of Edmonton.
The three-year moratorium began in 2012 and will end on November 1, 2015. It affects five neighbourhoods identified by the City as being distressed, including McCauley and Boyle Street.