Successive provincial governments have decried the lack of the “missing middle” of housing across communities in Ontario; that there is a desperate need for “gentle density” of low story multi-unit housing options. On the ground at the local level where planning has direct impact on the lives of residents, municipalities have been at the forefront of community specific public planning. And I can say that in Aurora, we have been implementing zoning requirements specifically designed to meet provincial planning policy and provincially set population targets.
Aurora has been encouraging the growth of the “missing middle” for years now. And it has been successful.
The graph below tells the true story of public planning in Aurora. As you can see, since 2017, the highest number of applications by built form – applied AND approved – are for apartments and townhomes. The lowest? single family homes. What is missing though? Duplexes and triplexes. The kind of housing that families need – Two- and three-bedroom units for young and growing families. Our Official Plan has identified areas in our town that are just prime for these kinds of developments. On transit routes, near amenities. But the problem is, they simply aren’t being built. In the last 5 years not one duplex has been built in Aurora, in fact not one has been applied for.
We have developed polices through our OP that sets the stage for growth that is appropriate for our community, respecting the character of our neighbourhoods while increasing density to provide much needed housing. Through our OP review, we will continue to develop policies that will foster the growth of a more diverse housing stock that will afford our future generations a place to call home in Aurora as well as enable our seniors to age in place. Through our community informed Official Plan development, we will continue to find ways to allow more opportunities for more to come and live in Aurora and experience why we are such a great town.
So, while I can’t speak for other communities, I can say that in aurora, the prevailing narrative about municipalities being a barrier to denser housing options is simply not supported by facts.
It just isn’t true.
What is true? year after year, for decades, application after application appealed to the OMB/LPAT/OLT because we as a Council make decisions that uphold our official plans. Millions of meters of red tape preventing the missing middle from being built right now.
We are on the right track in Aurora as we are seeing more applications for the housing “missing middle” – but more needs to be done. To achieve our community vision, building homes for current and future generations, we as a Council need to have the authority to uphold our Official Plan (OP) so that we can ensure the development community builds what’s needed in our Town not just what’s best for their bottom line.