Video | 2021

A Negotiated Approach: Evaluating Affordable Housing Outcomes from Section 37 Agreements (1988-2018)

Limited public sector funding has meant that municipalities have increasingly relied upon the private sector to help build affordable housing. In Toronto, the City has historically secured such affordable housing contributions largely through the development approvals process using individual negotiations with developers. This process has been facilitated through Section 37 of Ontario’s Planning Act, which permits the City to approve increases in height and/or density above what current zoning allows in exchange for community benefits.

In this video presentation, IMFG Post-Doctoral Fellow Julie Mah presented preliminary findings from her research on Section 37 agreements from 1988 to 2018 that contain affordable housing benefits to understand the housing outcomes achieved through Toronto’s negotiated and incentive-based approach.

Toronto is currently developing a new, formal “inclusionary zoning” policy that requires developers to set aside a percentage of their new housing units as affordable housing. Section 37 practices are also being reformed in response to recent provincial amendments to the Planning Act. In this context, Mah’s research seeks to establish baseline data against which the effectiveness of future approaches could be evaluated.


Julie Mah is the 2020-2021 IMFG Post-Doctoral Fellow. She holds a Ph.D. in Planning from the University of Toronto and her research focuses on affordable housing issues, evictions, gentrification and displacement, and equitable development approaches. Julie has also worked as a planning consultant on several community improvement plans, cultural plans and economic development strategies.

The IMFG Post-Doctoral Fellowship is funded by the School of Cities.

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