François’ Response to the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association Candidates Survey

To learn more about the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA), click here. Here is my response to their survey:

Candidate Survey on Growth, Development and Real Estate in Ottawa – BOMA, OREB & GOHBA

Ottawa’s official plan calls for growth to be “directed towards key locations with a mix of housing, shopping, recreation and employment – locations that are easily accessible by transit and that encourage walking and cycling.”

Q1) While a variety of approaches can achieve the objective of mixed-income, mixed-use communities, what tools would you like to see the city use to ensure a mix of residential, commercial, and public space in a new or revitalized community?

I believe that Ottawa needs better planning, so that the objectives of the plans are well known by all parties, city officials, developers alike in order to ensure the required infrastructure is well planned and in place before development takes place.

Recent polling by Nanos Research indicates that of the top financial challenges most municipal governments face, citizens rank infrastructure and transportation as most important. As you may know, Toronto collects a municipal land transfer tax on top of the provincial land transfer tax for each and every sale that involves the transfer of land in order to help pay for priorities like infrastructure and transit. Ottawa REALTORS® and residential and commercial developers know that a municipal land transfer tax would hurt the dream of home ownership and significantly increase the cost of development growth in Ottawa, and in turn affect jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity for businesses in this city.

Q2) Where do you stand on additional taxation powers for the City of Ottawa? How do you think the city should raise revenue to fund its many priorities?

I believe taxes should only be increased to a level that matches inflation rate and only for specific projects that would benefit residents.

A critical part of promoting growth and economic activity in the city is having a smooth, predictable development application and review process.

Q3) What part of Ottawa’s development review process would you point to as successful in servicing the development community while balancing the city’s regulatory obligations? What part of the process could be improved?

I am not familiar enough with Ottawa’s development review process to provide you with an intelligent answer for this question!

REALTORS® and renovators are very concerned that the legalization of recreational marijuana in Ontario is going to have significant impacts on homes as federal legislation permits up to four plants of unlimited height to be grown in private residences. Growing cannabis indoors often involves creating conditions that can lead to the formation of mold and fungus, which can have serious health risks for seniors and young children.

Q4) What do you see as the priorities for Ottawa City Council when it comes to the legalization of cannabis and its impact on residential properties? Are there any particular policy changes that you would support?

The topic of cannabis will be a challenging one at all levels. I believe it would be very difficult for Ottawa to regulate the use of cannabis inside residential properties. Just like smoking now, I believe the use of cannabis indoors will lower the resale value of a property. With regards to priorities for Ottawa City Council, it should be to regulate where the cannabis store can be located, the number per street/area/Ward and the use in public space initially. For the rest, we will have to assess as time goes as there are still too many unknown on the use and federal/provincial regulations.

New neighbourhoods are doing a good job of intensifying – the city had a density target of 34 units per hectare for suburbs which developers and builders have exceeded by nearly 10%. But even mixed-use developments with targeted affordable units are the objects of NIMBY opposition in today’s development climate.

Q5) How would you promote residential intensification across the entire city?

I do not believe that one single policy should apply for the entire City of Ottawa. Residential intensification should have a different approach depending on the project being considered, the location and the access to infrastructure such as bike lanes and public transit.

In Ottawa, the vacancy rate for one-bedroom rental units is 1.4 per cent and 2.1 per cent for two-bedroom units, according to 2017 data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. A healthy rental market requires a minimum vacancy rate of three to five per cent, according to ACTO (Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario)

Q6) What role can municipal governments play in helping the supply of rental units at an affordable rate?

Collaborate with investors and developers to find the best formula for each project, whether it be a tax break or an increase in the number of units, building height, so that the cost of the housing is shared and not solely the responsibility of the investors/developers.

To attract business investment and jobs to Ottawa requires innovation and cooperation between government and private business.

Q7) What is your vision to further position Ottawa as a destination for new or expanding businesses, and what tools would you employ from within municipal government?

My position and part of my campaign platform is to use my membership in the Chamber of Commerce and in the Rotary Club to meet entrepreneurs in other jurisdictions, seek the ones who want to expand their business and show them what Ottawa has to offer: proximity to transports (417, airport, train), LRT to bring employees to work, the high level of education per capita and all the outdoor and green space they and their employees can experience at a very close proximity.

Environmental goals related to development and economic growth are becoming more and more common at the municipal level.

Q8) What environmental goals would you like to see the City adopt and what programs and/or incentives would you support to achieve such goals?

I would like to see better recycling and composting programs. Better educational programs for residents, commercial and industrial enterprises, and better collaboration between the city and businesses to identify attainable objectives for all.

CBC article on recent bus route changes

While the LRT will eventually bring convenient and fast public transit to some ward residents, we need to make sure that all residents see the benefit of this major investment.

In the short term, there will be many issues to address, in fact we have already seen problems. On Sept. 2, OC Transpo modified many routes to prepare buses to feed into the new light rail system, which is now delayed and not due to open until the new year. We need a measured and careful approach to the roll-out to avoid LRT/O-train backlash.

Bus route changes a hot election issue in Innes | CBC News

Residents in some east Ottawa neighbourhoods are so frustrated by recent bus route changes that the issue has become one of the top complaints that candidates in Innes ward hear about at the door. Life has become especially inconvenient for high school students in Chapel Hill and Blackburn Hamlet, as they try to keep up jobs and after-school activities, the candidates say.

CBC article on the race for Innes Ward

Quote from CBC news article below:

… bilingual candidate, François Tré​panier… served nearly three decades in the Armed Forces before turning to business and said he’s proud of his two masters degrees in education and public administration.

“That means you’ve conducted a lot of research, you’re able to look into issues and make up your mind for yourself,” he said.

Strong slate vies to replace Jody Mitic in Innes ward | CBC News

Three women who have spent time behind the scenes at city hall and a retired member of the Armed Forces are trying to differentiate themselves as they compete for Jody Mitic’s empty seat in Innes ward. Mitic, a veteran of the Afghanistan war, decided not seek a second term and has been on leave for health reasons.

François’ Response the SOS Vanier Survey

Learn more about SOS Vanier and their opposition to the 350-bed shelter on their main street: Here is my response to their survey:

1) Would you vote in support of a motion withdrawing from staff delegated authority for funding of shelter, group home, transitional housing or other such projects that exceed 50 beds?
☑ Yes
☐ No

2) Would you support a requirement for inclusionary zoning in all new large development projects?
☑ Yes
☐ No

3) Would you commit to voting to override the City of Ottawa official plan and/or zoning by-laws only when there is a public interest in doing so?
☑ Yes
☐ No

4) Would you support a motion requiring developers to conduct a pre-consultation with local community associations, social and health services providers and BIAs?
☑ Yes
☐ No

5) Would you support a fund that community associations and/or BIAs could access to help “level the playing field” when opposing proposals made by developers? (These funds could be used for items such as studies, public education and professional services).
☑ Yes
☐ No

6) Given the City of Ottawa 10-year housing and homelessness plan calls for the transfer of 40% of shelter funds to prevention, would you support a motion requiring staff to begin this funding shift?
☑ Yes
☐ No

7) Given that shelters and “transitional housing” are expensive and inefficient, would you commit to requiring city staff to pursue more effective evidence-based solutions such as housing first?
☑ Yes
☐ No

8) Do you think the city should stop passing responsibility for homelessness off to charities and accept responsibility for finding an effective long-term solution?
☑ Yes
☐ No

9) Would you vote to require independent social impact and business impact studies for any shelter (or transitional housing) over 50 beds?
☑ Yes
☐ No

10) Would you vote to change the City of Ottawa official plan and zoning by-laws to allow shelters on all TMSs including those in your ward?
☑ Yes
☐ No

11) Are you aware that shelters built in poor neighbourhoods are more destructive to the community than those built in more affluent areas?
☑ Yes
☐ No

12) Given the recognition of Ottawa City’s bilingual character, would you support a motion instructing staff to link funding for shelter services to the obligation to be bilingual?
☑ Yes
☐ No

13) Given the importance of consulting Aboriginal peoples about anything that might affect their rights and culture, would you support a motion instructing staff to consult them before granting any funding to a health and social services facility operated by a private religious charity?
☑ Yes
☐ No

14) Would you like to add any comment or information with respect to the questions above and the issues mentioned in this survey?

I am not a fan or large facilities having 50 plus beds. I support inclusive housing. See related post below:

Affordable and Inclusive Housing

François’ Response to ACORN’s Candidates Survey

Learn more about Ottawa ACORN and the good work that they do advocating for our most vulnerable communities: Agenda for Change.  Here is my response to their survey:

Municipal Election Priorities: Democratic Rights

 Campaign Asks François’ response and position on the issue
That the City ensure section 6.1 is enforced (Province of Ontario, Municipal Elections Act) where polls are advised to be present “in buildings containing 100 or more dwelling units”. We would like to see the City of Ottawa pass a policy reflecting access to voting. YES. It makes absolute sense to me. The voting rate in Innes Ward is around 40%, therefore, if we want to increase the number of residents who vote, we need to make polls more accessible/available to residents.
We want to reduce barriers to voting and ensure equal citizen access to polling stations. We want a policy in place where voter population density informs where polling stations go and ensure polling stations open from 10am-8pm. YES. I would even go further, change election day to a Saturday instead of a Monday. Increase the voting hours to 8am-8pm, have the polls open early, a lot of people want to vote earlier than the current time (10 am).
The city should bring back door to door to find eligible voters. I am unsure about this topic. I would have to learn more about this process. Would it be conducted by volunteers, paid staff? One means to achieve this would be to provide the candidates who go door knocking the means to record voters currently not on the Voting List. Also, are we working with the province on this issue? They just went through an election a few months ago… Do we use the same Voters List (municipal and provincial)?

Municipal Election Priorities: Housing

Inclusionary zoning by-laws are a way for municipalities to use their development regulation and approval process to have private developers provide some affordable in all (or nearly all) market projects. Inclusionary zoning increases the amount of affordable housing stock and Ottawa needs help more than ever with a growing wait-list of over 10,000 families for affordable housing. YES. We need to put rules in place that regulates the % of inclusive housing for all development projects.

See also this post:

We need the City to enact Rental Replacement by-laws so in the case of redevelopment, such as in Herongate, affordable market rental units are not lost and replaced with higher market rental units. This would allow families to remain in their communities and prevent increasing waitlists for affordable housing. YES. We need to protect the rental units we currently have and support the addition of new units.
The single biggest problem related to housing identified by low-income families who rent in Ottawa is the problem with the state of dis-repair in apartment buildings. The problems are severe and include; massive pest infestations; elevators not working for long periods of time; problems with proper heating; safety issues related to doors not locked properly; and basic repairs in apartments that tenants are entitled to but not receiving.

In short, enforcement mechanisms at the municipal level need to be improved. There should be more severe consequences for negligent landlords and set timelines in which landlords need to do critical repairs as seen in the City of Toronto. We need Landlord Licensing, similar to Toronto, which would include a landlord registry, yearly inspections, increased enforcement and better standards of repair.

I AGREE.We need to make the delinquent and negligent landlord accountable for the repairs that are needed to bring all units to the desired standard.

Perhaps a program such as Toronto’s could be replicated here in Ottawa.

Municipal Election Priorities: Childcare

With Ontario’s childcare fees being the highest out of any province in the country and unaffordable & inaccessible childcare being the number one reason women list for not entering the workforce, we need childcare that is affordable, accessible and fair.

We need funding for affordable public/non-profit daycare spaces to be prioritized in lower income neighborhoods and communities

YES. I fully agree. We lived a similar situation when we lived in Halifax, NS, where we were paying over $100 a day for day care of a 1 yr old and a 3 yr old, back in 2005.That was a lot of money then and I understand that the current costs are likely higher. We need to help the families with lower income, with funding directly transferred to the day care.
Support asking the province to introduce geared to income childcare fees capped at $10/day. YES. I agree that the support should go to families in need and not across all families regardless of their income. Families who can afford it should pay for the full cost of day care.
Parents need easier access to information in order to understand Ontario’s patchwork childcare system. We need transparency and accountability to parents through a simplified online process and face to face assistance when applying for subsidies. I AGREE. I promote more transparency and accountability as part of my campaign. Two principles that we can also apply to our childcare system.
Expanded programming for parents who work non-standard hours (ie. shift work, overnights). I AGREE. We also need to consider families where both parents are sometimes working on shifts. Perhaps it is time to consider a 24hrs per day, 365 days a year (24/7) daycare facility, run by a NFP organization and sponsored by the City?

Municipal Election Priorities: Transit

Many low-income earners need public transit in order to survive. We believe transit should be free for those living on social assistance and geared to income for low-income earners, which should be no more than $43 a month. I AGREE IN PRINCIPLE. I agree that we should work toward a system with free transit access for those living on social assistance. I would have to study the numbers and see the cost of such a program. I would be more likely to agree to an immediate cut by 30% and work towards free transit over the next four years (30% now 1 December 2018, 20% at the end of each year 1 & 2 and 15% at the end of each year 3 & 4). This would allow Council to better integrate this service in OC Transpo’s budget and work the reduction into the overall City budget.
There should be no minimum payment to upload Presto passes for people under the low income measure. I AGREE. There should be no minimum for all! This is a simple change to be implemented in the software of the Presto system.
The City of Ottawa needs to ensure people with disabilities have increased access to transit.

Para-Transpo should implement an online booking system to help those with hearing impairments and to eliminate long wait-times with over the phone bookings.

I AGREE. I do not know why this is not in place already. Ottawa needs to become the leader for accessible and affordable public transit.

Municipal Election Priorities: Affordable Utilities

The City should ensure hydro rates are affordable for low-income earners- including those under Hydro One who often pay higher rates. Further, the City should reward low to moderate-income families who practice energy saving tactics. I AGREE. I believe that all families who practice energy saving tactics should be rewarded. In addition, those who waste energy (stores all lit-up overnight inside, where there is no one in sight) should be penalized through a much higher rate. They need to give the example and practice energy saving.

Municipal Election Priorities: Infrastructure

When the City engages in large infrastructure projects, they should also engage in Community Benefits Agreements. The new light rail system is a perfect opportunity to build community benefits agreements where developers are mandated to support social services in our communities.

Community Benefits Agreements should include:
– Living Wages for all workers during and after construction
– Local Hiring from low-to-moderate income community, including job training.
– Local decision making powers for community to decide what types of businesses, and community infrastructure (childcare, community centres) are put in post development
– Deep Affordable Housing provided to local residents

I AGREE.  Community Benefits Agreements should be considered for both large and smaller projects.Much like an environmental assessment is conducted when considering a project, we should include a social assessment and insist that where feasible, community benefits should be part of projects.
Invest in green infrastructure and maintain green space in low and moderate income neighbourhoods. I AGREE.One of the initiatives I am proposing as part of my campaign is electric buses. Toronto is currently conducting a study on electric buses and I believe Ottawa should team-up with Toronto and capitalize on that study.

I also agree that we need to protect the current green spaces we have, in all neighbourhoods.

Municipal Election Priorities: Zoning

Vanier, one of Ottawa’s working class neighbourhoods, holds the highest density per capita of predatory lenders in the country. However, the onslaught of predatory lenders has become a city-wide issue.

The City needs to license and limit the distances between payday lenders (and other fringe financial institutions) to stop the proliferation of predatory lenders in the city.

I AGREE.  We need to better regulate these types of establishments, who tend to prey on the residents that are the most in need.We need to restrict the number of establishments, their location and stop predatory lenders.

Municipal Election Priorities: Employment

The City of Ottawa should create an ethical purchasing strategy that protects workers’ wages and benefits and avoids contract flipping. I AGREE. The City of Ottawa needs to review their entire procurement policy. We need to buy local, from suppliers that have ethical and fair treatment policies, for both the suppliers of goods and services.
All employees working on city grounds should be paid a living wage. I AGREE IN PRINCIPLE. However, it might be difficult to regulate the wages of a contractor’s employees. We know the employers who pay a fair wage and let’s hope we continue to do business with them.

Affordable and Inclusive Housing

Learn more about the CFFO and the good work they do helping special needs people in our community live autonomously here: Here is my response to their survey.

1. Will you make affordable housing in Orléans a priority? 

Absolutely. I believe that every new project should be mandated to have inclusive housing as part of their project. Inclusivity is proven to work and it is a concept that I promote during my campaign and that I will continue to promote once elected.

2. What percentage of housing should be affordable and inclusive in our ward and our city?

I believe there should be a set percentage of inclusive units depending on the number of units involved in the project. Incidentally, I believe that 15% should be the minimum for every new project, whether it is housing or apartment units. Larger projects should carry a larger percentage of inclusive housing. Perhaps 15% up to 50 or 60 units? A larger project could have a set percentage of 20% and so on? We would need to work with the developers, the beneficiary of these units and organization such as yours to develop percentages that work for all. This is a matter of awareness and education for developers. When we meet them and demonstrate the benefits of inclusive housing, they tend to be more open to the concept of inclusive housing.

I am happy to report that I have met with Ed Sawaya (from Melkart) last Friday and the first thing he said to me is that he is committed to 15% accessible units in his current project on Innes Rd. He even said that he is willing to consider more than 15% for future projects.