Ward 08 — Laine Johnson
Our Rating — Green
Laine clearly understands the issues driving affordability in Ottawa and especially in her ward. She would make an excellent proponent of affordable housing, and in particular non-profit housing for her constituents.
Q1: Do you support reforms that would make our zoning policies more simple, permissive, with an explicit goal of fixing our housing shortage, creating 15 minute walkable neighbourhoods, and building missing middle housing city-wide?
I would support reforms that make our zoning policies more simple and transparent for people in our communities so that we know we have predictability in how we see our neighbourhoods grow. Section 37, for example, whereby the City could receive revenue in exchange for higher builds, was extremely problematic from the resident perspective. They thought they were understanding the rules and then there are exceptions to those rules. It erodes trust in the City of Ottawa when people feel as if they don’t build transparently in their neighbourhoods.
We need density and increased housing supply to address the current shortage city-wide, and to create more walkable neighborhoods.To build support for this vision, we need clarity and predictability in the planning processes. When neighbourhoods are consulted on community design plans, only to find them ignored, residents get cynical and lose trust in the process. We can build for support growth in our established neighbourhoods when we build trust in the transparency and stability of the planning process.
I support walkability and 15 minute walkable neighbourhoods and look forward to working across the Council table with other new ‘Outer Urban’ wards to figure out how to create that in our mature neighbourhoods.
Q2: Do you support a target of 100,000 new homes in Ottawa in the next 10 years? This is the number that leading housing economists agree we need to build in order to restore housing affordability in our city. Our current Official Plan target is just 75,000 — far short of where we need to be.
The City must create new housing to keep pace with population growth and control rising housing costs. I support a target of 100,000 new homes over ten years, and this target must include added density on mainstreets, arterial roads, near LRT and bus rapid transit stations. College ward also has a shortage of rental housing suitable for Algonquin College students, and I support added purpose-built rental housing to address this challenge.
Q3: Do you agree we need to fix public consultations so that more voices are heard, and so they consider the benefits of projects to the people who will live in
new homes — not just existing homeowners?
I am, by profession, a community engagement specialist. I routinely seek out public, private and non-profit perspectives to inform decision-making. I am an independent thinker, but have exceptional listening and synthesizing skills. I am honest and transparent with my stakeholders on any given project. I am not afraid of hosting difficult conversations so that we can ensure the best results. I have led public institutions, supported community engagement, and taught municipal policy. I have a specific commitment in my platform relating to public consultation and meeting people where they are at. I believe people should not have to become experts in navigating the system to get the answers they want, nor to meet others who care deeply about their City.
Our City is growing and our neighbourhoods will grow along with it. Honest, transparent and meaningful public consultations, with clearly stated goals of creating smart development and appropriate density, are important. I am the right person to execute on those consultations, and I can support City Staff as well.
Q4: Do you support ending mandatory parking minimums for new developments so that builders can decide if they want to build transit-friendly communities around transit stations?
College Ward is a ward full of mature neighbourhoods with extremely poor transit services. I support added density near LRT and bus rapid transit lines.
Although I understand the temptation to eliminate parking minimums to maximize the housing developed and encourage transit-oriented communities, both for the environment and to address the housing crisis, eliminating parking minimums will not solve the reliability and frequency issues we currently face in taking the bus. My priority will be to secure the provincial and federal funding for the Baseline Rapid Transit Corridor to ensure those communities that are already facing transit-oriented development zoning can be sure that those new developments already in the works will have the transit they are designed for.
Q5: Do you support a win-win inclusionary zoning plan that asks developers to include affordable housing in their developments, in exchange for lower fees, faster approvals, or more density?
Working as an executive in non-profit housing, I know all too well the dismal current situation with regard to affordable housing in Ottawa. Currently, 14,000 people are on a waitlist for affordable housing in this city. This is unacceptable. I support inclusionary zoning. Rules surrounding mandatory affordable units can be developed carefully to ensure there isn’t an overall disincentive to build rental stock. Consider the non-profit housing sector as a partner and leader to address the housing crisis: fund their capital projects to meet the demand. Private industry is only one piece of the puzzle.
Q6: Will you ask the next Mayor and Council to invest in building deeply affordable housing in your ward and take a leadership role in reducing waitlists
and repair backlogs for social housing across the city?
I grew up in a co-op, and I now work for a non-profit housing corporation (on leave). I have both a personal and professional relationship to affordable housing. We need to build new affordable housing, and we also need to preserve what we built decades ago. As College Ward’s Councillor, I would champion a reset of co-op and non-profit housing funding programs. We need to give social housing tenants a commitment that their homes will remain affordable and that their homes will remain good places to live. The original programs were designed when these buildings were new, but many are now facing significant renovation and repair costs. We can’t afford to lose these affordable homes in our communities, and the City needs to properly support their renewal.
Q7: Do you support ending exclusionary R1 zoning rules that keep renters, students, and working class families out of neighbourhoods in the name of
“protecting neighbourhood character”?
I look forward to the next Term of Council where we are going to undergo a zoning by-law review. This will help our neighbourhoods all decide how we implement the density targets set forth in the Official Plan. In College Ward, we have seen sluggish growth compared to other wards. Most intensification has been a result of spot up-zoning through the Committee of Adjustment and through Secondary Dwelling Units. I will welcome the opportunity to have a more transparent and holistic discussion with our residents about how we welcome growth. College Ward is ready for that thoughtful discussion: we can see the need for infrastructure repair and renewal, parks, traffic calming, and other investments that come with growth. We want housing options: for people looking to start out, for seniors looking to downsize, and for everyone in between. I would look forward to bringing my facilitation skills so that we can get the
maximum community benefit from the development we welcome.