GOLDEN GIRLS ACT IS NOW LAW – BILL 69
The Golden Girls Act is now law intended to help address Ontario’s housing crisis. According to housing minister Steve Clark “Solving Ontario’s housing crisis is going to take new and innovative ideas.”
Realtors and banks love the law. Homes can now be more easily sold and mortgaged to unrelated parties. Condo communities are not likely to be so excited.
At my last meeting at a Mississippi Mills Senior Advocacy meeting the Golden Girls Act came up.
What it is all about..
Bill 69 is inspired by four Port Perry seniors who, in 2016, wanted to move into a house together. After realizing that a retirement home, condo or apartment was not the ideal living arrangement, these four seniors decided to cohabit together, designed a home that would meet their collective needs.
However, their dreams did not become a reality. The Township of Scugog decided to prevent this type of home sharing by seniors. If Bill 69 is successful, amendments to the Planning Act would pave the way to encouraging and permitting home sharing by unrelated seniors. Something we absolutely need to see more of. If there is little money, then it is imperative that these creative cohousing ideas need to come to life.
From Lindsey Park’s page
THEIR STORY – In 2016, four senior, single women moved in to a recently renovated home in downtown Port Perry. However, this was no ordinary renovated house, and these were not typical seniors. The Golden Girls Effect, so labeled by the Toronto Star, resulted in a renovated heritage house that meets the anticipated needs of these seniors as they age, and they are not even related.
They did this because as they were planning for their golden years, the housing options available were not attractive to them. Watching loved ones try to navigate the world of seniors’ housing, they realized that living in a retirement home, condo or apartment would not be for them. Instead, they took a proactive approach, seeing that there were major economic and social benefits of pooling their resources and designing a home that would meet their needs as they aged. This included building two caregiver suites in their basement, adding an elevator to service the three-story home, and even consulting experts on everything from door handles to roll-in showers, to make the house accessible for aging seniors. All this was designed to help serve them as they age.
They also knew they would have to lay some ground rules down if they were to peacefully live under one roof. With the help of a lawyer, they drafted a home sharing agreement, determining protocol and peaceful resolution mechanisms when disagreements inevitably occurred. The agreement also helps to give answers to some legal questions, including the logistics in the case of one member’s death or moving out.
The benefits were felt immediately. Living alone, they needed four of everything. Now, they make-do with sharing one item between the four of them, finding efficiencies in all parts of their lives. They eat dinner together, they check in on each other, and they enjoy living together.
Upon meeting the Golden Girls, Durham Member of Provincial Parliament, Lindsey Park, was inspired to do what she could to promote this project and ensure that other seniors did not face similar hurdles at the municipal level. In February 2019, MPP Park introduced a Private Member’s Bill in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, titled The Golden Girls Act, 2019. The Bill was debated in the Legislature and passed Second Reading with all-party support.
The goal of this legislation is to provide clarity to local municipalities that they cannot use their local by-law-making powers to try to stop seniors from living together. Further, the aim is to start a conversation about co-housing for seniors, with a hope that future Golden women and men do not face the same obstacles.
With a supply shortage of housing options that are affordable, long wait lists for long-term care, and an aging population, innovative approaches to housing for seniors are needed. Repurposing existing housing infrastructure and promoting the sharing-economy will create more options for more seniors.
In May 2019, the Ontario Government committed taking action on the issues raised by The Golden Girls Act, 2019 as part of its More Homes, More Choice: Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan. This plan will also help to tackle the issue of home-sharing among seniors raised in The Golden Girls Act, 2019.
On December 11, 2019 the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing released the Co-owning a Home guide – an innovative consumer guide, featuring on its cover the Golden Girls of Port Perry. MPP Park led consultations with the Ministry that resulted in this guide. It contains practical information about co-ownership to help Ontarians make informed decisions when they are thinking about co-owning a home.
MPP Park hopes the conversation about different housing models, like co-ownership, will continue in order to increase housing options that are affordable for Ontarians of all ages and income levels.
Currently the Planning Act provides that the authority to pass by-laws under certain sections of the Act does not include the authority to pass a by-law that has the effect of distinguishing between persons who are related and persons who are unrelated in respect of the occupancy or use of a building or structure or part thereof, including the occupancy or use as a single housekeeping unit. The Bill amends the Act to provide that the rule applies, for greater certainty, in respect of unrelated seniors.
Bill 69 2019
An Act to amend the Planning Act
All levels of government should recognize that Ontario has an aging population and should encourage innovative and affordable housing solutions for seniors. Local municipalities should not deter seniors from choosing affordable housing options and should recognize that unrelated seniors living together can reap significant health, economic and social benefits. It is desireable to provide clarity to municipalities that the Planning Act should be interpreted in a way that encourages and permits home sharing by unrelated seniors as a housing solution.
Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:CLICK HERE