Housing crisis

Provincial task force appears to blame municipalities for housing crisis, Waterloo Region officials say

WATERLOO REGION – A provincial affordable housing task force appears to be blaming municipalities for Ontario’s soaring housing prices and lack of supply, regional staff said in a report presented to Waterloo Region council on Wednesday evening.

In its February report, the task force said the province would need 1.5 million new homes over the next decade. He recommended sweeping changes that would allow developers to fast-track some housing projects, pay fewer fees, and limit some public consultations and other planning processes.

The average home price in Ontario has jumped 180% over the past decade, from $329,000 to $923,000. Revenue over this period increased by 38%.

Regional planning and finance staff said they were generally supportive of many of the recommendations in the task force’s report, which was released last month after the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing convened the group to suggest ways to deal with the housing shortage crisis.

Calls to remove zoning that only allows low-density single and semi-detached housing, to allow “as-of-right” housing densities along transit routes, and to make the approval process for developments and appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal, it all makes sense, they said.

But the task force “appears to assume that barriers to housing supply are primarily caused by municipalities and their councils,” the staff report says. The recommendations suggest the panel doesn’t understand how municipal finance works and likely reflects the “gross” failure to have municipal representation on the task force, they said.

Many of the task force’s recommendations are “really questionable and bizarre,” said Cambridge real estate broker Nina Deeb, who also spoke to the task force’s council.

Regional staff had “significant concerns” with about a third of the task force’s 55 recommendations, including calls to limit public participation in planning applications, allow development of land outside existing urban boundaries and to compel municipalities to compensate property owners for the loss. of value following a heritage designation.

They also disagreed with calls for the elimination of development charges, which help pay for growth-related projects such as roads and sewers, limiting public participation in planning, and a proposal to restore the right of developers to appeal official plans. The region’s last official plan has been stalled by appeals from developers for six years; it’s unclear how allowing such appeals would create more housing or speed up approvals, staff said.