Oakville councillor opposes proposed measures to deal with affordable housing crisis

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Published April 22, 2024 at 8:30 pm

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Oakville Ward 5 Town and Regional Councillor Jeff Knoll is voicing his “strong opposition” to a proposed Housing Accelerator Fund by-law.

The by-law, which will be discussed at an upcoming council meeting on May 6, aims at providing measures that will help deal with the affordable housing crisis happening in Oakville and across the province and country.

Knoll says the community stands at a crossroads concerning the proposed Housing Accelerator Fund by-law.

“After much deliberation, contemplation of constituent feedback, and assessment of the potential long-term impacts on our town, I am compelled to voice my strong opposition to this by-law,” said Knoll Monday night (Apr. 22) in a statement on the social media platform X.

Knoll added that while the by-law is “commendable” and Oakville needs dire solutions to the affordable housing crisis, he says the measures being proposed in it fall “significantly short” of a realistic, feasible, or beneficial remedy for our community.

“First and foremost, the initiative’s expectation that properties in Oakville could inherently accommodate up to four units ‘as of right’ is overly optimistic and impractical,” the local councillor wrote. “Realistically, very few of our properties can undergo such transformations without extensive modifications, which are neither economically viable for most homeowners nor in alignment with the character of our neighborhoods.”

Knoll says particularly concerning is the proposal affecting the Sheridan College Housing Area. It suggests that an allowance for homes to expand to four stories “as of right.”

He calls the changes radical and says they threaten to irreparably alter the College Park Community, disregarding the investment of families who have made this area their home.

“This approach contradicts our community’s values and undermines the principles of thoughtful and respectful urban planning,” he said. “My opposition also stems from extensive conversations and feedback from hundreds of constituents. “These discussions reveal broad apprehension and disapproval of the by-law, reinforcing my conviction that the proposed measures are detrimental to the integrity and cherished character of Oakville.”

Knoll pointed to Oakville’s Official Plan and says it was developed with a vision of fostering cohesive, sustainable growth.

Bypassing these plans for shortsighted fixes, he added, will compromise the community’s foundation and future.

While the federal government has an important role in addressing the housing crisis, he said the path to resolution should not “undermine or destabilize established communities.

“Instead, I advocate for a return to historical successes in tackling housing shortages, akin to the unified efforts post-World War II, where cooperation and collective effort led to significant, timely housing developments without sacrificing community integrity,” said Knoll. “The current proposal, while seeking to address a crucial issue, lacks nuance and fails to offer a comprehensive, community-respecting solution.

“Financial incentives to rush municipalities into “quick fix” planning will not serve our constituents’ best interests nor address the root problems of the housing shortage. Thus, I stand firm in my opposition to the Housing Accelerator Fund by-law.”

Knoll says he is committed to seeking out alternative solutions that genuinely respect the character of Oakville’s neighborhoods, the needs of the constituents, and the vision of the town’s Official Plan.

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