The government of Ontario unveiled a series of sweeping changes to housing construction laws, in a bid to address a persistent housing shortage in some of the province’s most populated cities.
The proposed adjustments were unveiled by Premier Doug Ford on Tuesday, and include changes to municipal zoning laws that will expedite the creation of new housing as well as better utilize existing residential lots. If the legislation passes, builders will be allowed to construct up to three units per property, without the need for additional bylaw amendments or permissions from the municipality. Additional fees such as development charges and parkland dedication levies will also be scrapped for lower-income housing.
The latest announcement is part of the Progressive Conservatives’ plan to build 1.5 million homes within a decade, while bring costs down for Canadians by creating a “broader mix of rental housing.” The provincial government plans to meet the target by assigning municipalities housing quotas relative to their population size and growth. The new housing legislation will dictate that the city of Toronto creates 285,000 new homes before 2031, Ottawa reaches a target of 161,000 units, and Mississauga builds 120,000 homes.
In addition, the government’s changes will also “streamline” housing construction, such as foregoing the need for reviewing development draft plans during public meetings, allowing ministry staff to approve development applications on behalf of the minister, as well as divert permit considerations from pollution or land conservation to safety issues such as flooding and erosion. While the Conservatives are making it easier to build a new home in the province, they are raising the penalties from $25,000 to $50,000 for “bad actors,” who would axe contracts or halt projects on homes that have yet to be built.
If passed, the Conservatives’ new housing legislation would take effect in the summer of 2023. “There’s no time to waste,” said Ford during his speech. “Previous governments saw the problem coming, but they totally ignored it.”
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