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Newmarket candidates pledge to address affordable housing

'We need champions for housing,' Affordable Housing Coalition of York Region says, most local candidates commit to progressive policies in survey
18-05-2022 AffHousing
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The Affordable Housing Coalition of York Region has pushed Newmarket and regional candidates to pledge to address the housing crisis.

The coalition has published the survey results sent out to all candidates in York Region. It asks candidates to express their support for nine policy areas the advocacy group is pushing for, including vacant housing taxes, inclusionary zoning and supporting affordable housing supply.

Co-chair Yvonne Kelly said the survey is a way to hold to account candidates across the region, whether by highlighting their lack of support for the policies or, if they do support them, ensuring they follow through in office.

“We want to know who are going to be those advocates and those who clearly aren’t,” Kelly said. “Post-election, we can work with people and hold them accountable, if they were simply saying all the right things to get elected and don’t intend to follow through. It’s really democracy in action.”

The survey asked candidates to support nine housing positions in all. These included:

  • Recognizing housing as a human right
  • Increasing affordable housing supply using policy, investment and municipal lands
  • Supporting the development of an inclusionary zoning bylaw
  • Taxing vacant homes
  • Supporting the region’s call for each municipality to contribute two acres of land for affordable housing
  • Preserve existing affordable homes through eviction-prevention policy, rental housing protection bylaws and standing against vacancy decontrol.
  • Prevent and reduce homelessness 
  • Support sustainable lives for low-income residents by advocating for adequate funding for municipal services that support them, as well as for Ontario Works and ODSP
  • Advocate for adequate funding for municipal services and apply those funds to serve marginalized communities

Most Newmarket candidates, including the acclaimed, responded to the survey and have indicated universal support for the positions. The only ones in Newmarket who have not yet responded are Ward 2 candidate Brian Andrews, Ward 3 acclaimed candidate Jane Twinney, Ward 6 candidate Lukas Fuina and Ward 7 candidate Nadia Hansen.

“Newmarket has, by and large, really responded in a progressive and positive way,” Kelly said. “Sometimes, it takes one municipality to lead the way.” 

The only policy position to get some opposition in Newmarket was the sixth one on the list about preserving existing affordable homes, which the survey indicates Mayor John Taylor and Ward 6 incumbent Kelly Broome did not support.Broome said she did not answer that portion as she did not fully understand the question, and it seemed to be more of a regional matter.

Meanwhile, Taylor said it was not something he fully understood the implications of and did not have the time to fully research, so he also left it blank. He said it does not mean he does not support it but that he wants to understand it more fully before doing so. 

It is a topic that may require more education, Kelly said. She added that these days, it is rental homes that are affordable, but many of those are getting lost due to the lifting of rent controls, with landlords evicting tenants and then jacking up rental rates.

“We’re seeing many municipalities saying 'If we don’t have vacancy control, if we don’t have real regulation around increasing rents when tenants leave, you know who’s paying the price for that? Our regional and municipal governments' … For every one house we build, we lose five because of the lack of vacancy decontrol.” 

After calling candidates who had not responded in the past few weeks, Kelly said they got to about a 70 to 80 per cent response rate. They still hope to reach more candidates; she said it was concerning that none in East Gwillimbury had yet responded.

“People want honest and authentic politicians. If you don’t support this, then let us know that,” she said. 

As for candidates in other parts of the region indicating a lack of support for multiple positions, Kelly said that should be taken at face value.

“People are committed to housing on different levels,” Kelly said, adding she has seen many candidates believe it to be more of a provincial and federal issue. “There’s lots of things municipalities can do, and regions can do. We need champions for housing.” 

You can find the full results at