Ontario’s housing minister on Wednesday introduced new legislation aimed at increasing the supply of housing in the province.
On Wednesday, Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark introduced the More Homes for All bill at Queen’s Park.
The plan outlines three key areas the government is focusing on to address the problem.
The province said it was making a host of changes to cut red tape and create more homes, make it easier to build community housing, and protect buyers, landlords and renters.
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“More Homes for Everyone offers smart, targeted policies for the immediate term that will make housing fair for hard-working Ontarians and allow all types of housing to be built faster for those who need and want it. Clark told reporters at a press conference.
He said the government had “skin in the game”.
“And we are doing our part to unlock and accelerate housing,” he said. “That is why, effective January 1, 2023. Our government is committed to providing feedback within 45 days for any housing development applications across all government departments. Long-term.”
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Government officials said a report released by the province’s task force in February gives them a long-term roadmap.
Clark said the provincial government is committed to “implementing the recommendations of the task force with the housing supply action plan each year, over four years, starting in 2022 through 2023.” .
The provincial government is now launching new consultations on increasing the number of “missing middle” housing, including supports for multi-generational housing, access to funding for non-profit developers, and the housing needs of rural communities and North.
Clark said this consultation will form the “foundation for how we act on the task force’s recommendations.”
“And we need municipalities to be at the table,” Clark said, saying municipalities have said they “are not ready to immediately implement the ambitious policies in the task force report.”
“To ensure that municipalities actively support and are willing to implement these policies, my ministry will establish a housing supply task force this summer to engage municipalities in the design of these policies, using information from our multi-generational community consultation, to ensure that these policies work on the ground, in all municipalities,” he said.
The government said it was launching another round of 10 new consultations and establishing a housing supply task force with municipal and federal governments, as well as other stakeholders.
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The bill also includes amendments to the Planning Act and the City of Toronto Act, 2006, to help “streamline site plan requirements and planning processes.” approval, and help municipalities make decisions within realistic timeframes”.
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The changes would require the delegation of site plan control decisions from city councils to staff and would apply to all applications received from July 1.
It would also extend the timelines for reviewing site plan control applications from 30 days to 60 days.
The changes would also mean that if plans are not approved in a timely manner, refunds for site plan application fees would be granted.
The legislation also includes proposed changes to zoning bylaws starting Jan. 21, 2023, that would prompt municipalities to speed up approvals for housing and community infrastructure while “increasing transparency.”
The bill also contains measures to streamline subdivision approval processes, site plan approval processes, which deal with things like walkways and parking, and building approvals. multi-unit modular residential units.
The government said it will also invest more than $19 million over three years to help the Ontario Lands Tribunal and the Landlord and Tenant Board reduce their backlogs.
According to the bill, the funding will help courts hire more staff, including arbitrators who provide impartial, third-party decision-making, so disputes can be resolved more quickly.
Under a new consolidated homelessness prevention program, set to launch April 1, the province said it will also provide nearly $464 million each year to “help address homelessness.” and preventing it, including through supportive housing that combines housing assistance with wraparound services and supports.”
The government has said it is also working with municipalities seeking to establish a tax on vacant homes, which it says is “another tool to increase housing supply”.
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In early February, a housing affordability task force convened by the government released a report with more than 50 recommendations.
The recommendations included a goal to build an additional 1.5 million homes over 10 years and to “update planning guidelines to make this a priority”.
According to the report, home prices in Ontario have “nearly tripled over the past 10 years, growing much faster than incomes.”
“This makes home ownership out of reach for most first-time buyers in the province, even those with well-paying jobs,” the report read. “Housing has become too expensive for rental units and it has become too expensive in rural communities and small towns. The system is not working as it should.
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The report also says the province has 1.2 million homes – both rental and owned – below the G7 average.
“With projected population growth, this gap is widening and closing it will require immediate, bold and determined efforts,” the report said. “And to support population growth over the next decade, we will need an additional million homes.”
The report says the housing crisis is “affecting all Ontarians.”
“The ripple effect of the crisis is also preventing Ontario from reaching its full potential,” the report says.
The move comes a day after the province announced it would raise the tax on non-resident homebuyers.
The provincial government said non-resident home buyers would be increased to 20% from 15% previously.
The tax would also be extended to the entire province, instead of being limited to the greater Golden Horseshoe region.
“Our government is working to increase supply and help keep costs down for Ontario families and homebuyers, not foreign speculators looking to make a quick buck,” the Finance Minister Pete Bethlenfalvy in a statement.
Speaking at Wednesday’s press conference, Bethlenfalvy said the housing crisis was a “national problem”.
He said the Ontario government will “consult on ways to discourage construction slowdowns that could artificially drive up prices.”
“And we will continue to ask the federal government to work with us to increase the supply of housing in the province for Ontario families,” he said.
–with files from The Canadian Press
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