Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, says the solution to creating more houses is right under our noses.
He, along with Matt Richter, the newly named deputy leader of the Greens, held a town hall at St. Thomas’ Anglican Church in Bracebridge on Feb. 5 to discuss Shreiner’s proposed Bill 157, Homes You Can Afford in the Communities You Love Act.
“Everybody in Ontario deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” he told the assembled crowd.
The yet-to-be-approved idea could see Ontario’s Planning Act amended to allow four-plexes, four-storey buildings in certain neighbourhoods, and mid-range housing from six to 11 stories on major streets to be created.
Shreiner says his idea is based on two of the 74 recommendations made in the 2022 Housing Affordability Task Force report.
The town hall was preceded by Shreiner and Richter meeting with a handful of mayors from the area.
Richter said since the first time he ran for the Greens in Parry Sound-Muskoka, he’s seen little change in a handful of areas, notably housing. “At this time, it still is so hard to afford to branch off on your own and start a family in Muskoka,” he added.
He admitted that Bill 156, if passed, only serves as one piece to a large puzzle but added now is the time to “rally together in a non-partisan way” and get behind creating more affordable housing.
Shreiner said working with existing infrastructure, especially in an area like Muskoka, is key.
“We know how vital this watershed is to the tourism industry, in particular,” he said.
Bill 156 passed its first reading in Nov. and Shreiner said it’s due to be read a second time in a few weeks.
A bill must be read and debated three times before MPPs vote on whether to make it law. If that happens, the bill is sent to the lieutenant governor for royal assent after which it officially becomes law.