Ontario releases plan to address housing affordability and supply issues
The Ontario government has released its plan to address housing supply and affordability, and homebuilders couldn’t be happier.
Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing today revealed More Homes, More Choice: Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan, a full-spectrum suite of legislative changes to increase the supply of housing that is affordable and provide families with more meaningful choices on where to live, work and raise their families.
“We’ve heard loud and clear from families across Ontario that finding housing that is affordable takes too long and costs too much,” says Clark. “After years of neglect by the former government, there is now a housing crisis in Ontario and the dream of ownership is out of reach for too many. Our plan will make it easier to build the right type of homes in the right places, giving Ontarians and their families more flexibility when looking for a home they can afford.”
GTA homebuilders, through the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), applaud the action, calling it an important step to address the barriers to new homeownership and rental housing.
“The challenge is a basic one,” says Dave Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “Previous government policies and procedures have created structural barriers to the efficient operation of the housing market which has resulted in a generational shortfall of housing. Today, the Ford government has signaled its intent to address this problem to ensure that the right type of housing is built at the right price across the Greater Toronto Area.”
Clark says the plan will require a province-wide effort that includes municipalities, non-profits and private industry and will also be a comprehensive all-of-government initiative that will include legislative amendments to 13 government Acts.
The new measures proposed in More Homes, More Choicewould streamline the overly complex development approvals process to remove unnecessary duplication and barriers, making costs and timelines more predictable. The plan would also streamline and simplify the process for creating new rental housing options.
As part of the action plan, our government is also launching A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe,to address the needs of the region’s growing population, diversity and local priorities.
“Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, a family looking for a larger apartment to rent or a senior hoping to downsize, our action plan puts people first,” says Clark. “Combined with our government’s investment in renewed community housing, our Housing Supply Action Plan is sending a clear message that no matter what your situation you can count on our government to always put people first.”
Highlights of the plan
Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT):Changes will be introduced to allow LPAT to make decisions based on the best planning outcome and remove existing restrictions around the introduction of evidence. The number of adjudicators will be increased and case management powers introduced to acknowledge the need to address the backlog/housing supply.
Development Charges: To increase predictability for the industry and consumers around development charges, changes will allow for rates to be locked in at the time of complete site plan or zoning application. There are also provisions that defer DCs for rental buildings until occupancy.
Parkland/S37/Development Charges: A “community benefits authority” is to be introduced that both acknowledges the cumulative effect that taxes, fees and charges have on housing affordability and allows for more certainty and predictability by eliminating “planning by negotiation.” This new benefit will roll together DCs and will have a cap based on property value by municipality.
Red Tape Reductions:To reduce red tape and help streamline approvals, among other actions:
- Direction will be provided on how municipalities can use the Ontario Heritage Actwhile allowing for compatible changes and creating consistent appeals.
- The role of Conservation Authorities is to be reviewed to make sure that they go back to their core mandate, which will reduce overlap in approvals and reduce costs by streamlining roles.
- The Environmental Assessment Actwill be amended to exempt low-risk actions and remove duplications.
“It just takes too long to build new housing in the GTA,” says Wilkes. “This restricts supply and negatively impacts affordability. When you then layer on a disproportionate share of the cost for new infrastructure, parks, and municipal services to new homes, you now have the recipe for what we are currently experiencing.”
The complex regulatory environment, government fees, taxes and charges add as much as 25 per cent to the cost of an average new home in the region, BILD says.
The roposed LPAT changes will have a beneficial impact on supply, BILD says. Currently, there are as many as 1,000 cases, representing almost 100,000 housing units across Ontario waiting for consideration at the LPAT.
The overall focus on reducing red tape and speeding approvals through modifications to the Provincial Policy Statement, The Ontario Heritage Act, The Environmental Assessment Act and many others will enable the industry to unlock housing supply.
“We need more of all types of housing across the GTA – homes for purchase, for rent and social housing,” says Wilkes. “We look forward to working with all levels of government to address housing supply and affordability as the consultation on the proposed changes continues.”