Presented in a report titled London: A Place to Call Home, the recommendations are a joint project of the London Development Institute and the London Home Builders’ Association, and look to boost the city’s housing stock.
On Wednesday, the recommendations were brought before council’s strategic priorities and policy committee.
The recommendations include a series of potential policy actions, some of which are already being undertaken by the city, such as a comprehensive of London’s urban growth boundary and the ReThink zoning process which looks to develop a more flexible zoning by-law.
LDI executive director Mike Wallace told councillors these recommendations were listed to show public support for the city’s ongoing work.
Other policy recommendations include forming a group of downtown landowners to review “opportunities for redevelopment with a mandate to develop programs and incentives to drive residential growth in downtown.”
LDI and LHBA also want the development of Mayor’s Task Force aimed at tackling the city’s housing supply crisis, with this group being made up of “political representation, senior municipal staff and the development/building industry.” A similar task force consisting of city staff, not-for-profit housing providers and private sector developers is being sought as well.
The recommendations also call for three per cent of the annual assessment growth revenue, which is drawn from property tax, to be reinvested into planning and economic development services.
Another set of recommendations intend to speed up the process in getting homes built.
This includes a “barcode” system to track an application through the approval process, which is intended to hold both the developer and city staff accountable. Deputy city manager Scott Mathers noted during Wednesday’s meeting that an application tracking system is already in development.
“It’s likely to be an ID-based system instead of a barcode, but I think what they’re getting at (is something) we’ll be able to deliver on,” Mathers said.
The LDI and LHBA also want the city to improve and expand the use of electronic submissions for applications. Most recommendations have been listed with deadlines that stretch between late 2022 and the end of 2023.
Ward 11 Coun. Stephen Turner opened the line of questioning during Wednesday’s meeting, asking what will the industry do to boost London’s housing stock.
Turner added that “a lot of the delays and hold ups involved with development applications,” stem from applications that are not consistent with the city’s policy framework.
“For the vast majority of the applications, they come forward consistent with the application framework,” Turner said. “But how do you as an industry … help bring more approval-ready files before the city and council?”
“We’re more than willing to be at the table,” said Wallace. “To find ideas and work with the city and others to find solutions to these issues.”
Wallace doubled down on the desire to have developers at the table when asked by Turner about how the industry could release lands downtown that are being locked from development due to property speculation.
“All of our recommendations is really putting out to council that we are a willing organization to be at the table,” Wallace said.
A similar line of questioning was brought forward by Ward 5 Coun. Maureen Cassidy, who also reiterated caution expressed by Turner that the report from LDI and LHBA may be placing an unfair amount of blame on the city for a lack of housing supply.
“We are all in this together. I don’t expect us to sit around a campfire and sing Kumbaya, but it is very important to not lose sight of that,” Cassidy said.
Ward 9 Coun. Anna Hopkins expressed caution over where the recommendations may lead.
“I’m all open to having more of a dialogue and a conversation, but I think it’s really important that we do not give false hope here. I want to be as transparent as possible,” Hopkins said.
“As we talk about the development industry and the City of London here, we are missing out on conversations and input from our boards, advisory groups, commissions and, most important, our community – where’s their say in what they would like to live in?”
All councillors present during Wednesday’s strategic priorities and policy committee voted to endorse referring the recommendations back to city staff for further review.
The move is expected to be rubber-stamped when the group of city politicians meet as city council on July 5.
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