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Ford launches housing summit with funding to help municipalities cut red tape

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TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford has launched a virtual housing summit with a pledge of funds to help the province’s largest municipalities speed up development approvals.

The province would provide more than $45 million in the form of a new fund to streamline development approvals and cut red tape so residential and industrial projects can get started, he said.

Tackling the housing crisis will require collaboration from all levels of government, and Ford said his goal for the summit was to find concrete ways to enable more families to buy homes.

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“While the solutions may seem obvious, implementing them takes a lot of hard work and determination,” Ford said as he opened the summit.

“We know we need to better standardize processes and procedures across all regions, and we know we need to improve data collection and reporting to better track progress where we can do better. »

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark said housing affordability is a key priority for the Ontario government, and the summit is an opportunity to coordinate efforts with municipalities to build more houses faster.

It’s also about enabling the right mix of homes in the right places, Clark said.

Ford had invited Justin Trudeau to the summit with the mayors and regional presidents of major cities in Ontario, but the prime minister declined.

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The meeting was previously scheduled for mid-December, but was postponed so that provincial and municipal politicians could focus on their response to the Omicron variant.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government also announced the creation of a Housing Affordability Task Force to examine measures to boost the supply of rental and owned housing, reduce red tape and to provide other options for solving housing problems.

A report outlining its recommendations is expected to be released early next year.

Figures from Ontario’s Fall Economic Statement show that year-to-date housing starts are up 16 per cent from a year earlier, and housing starts rental units increased by 14%.

In the resale market, a frenzy peaked in March 2021 at an all-time high, before moderating in September. But in that month, the average resale price of homes in Ontario was 31.4 per cent above the February 2020 level before the pandemic.

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The government pointed to low interest rates, higher overall disposable incomes, limited resale listings and changing housing preferences to explain strong demand.

Telling numbers illustrating the province’s booming real estate markets are also reflected in land transfer tax revenues. In 2020-21, Ontario collected about $3.7 billion in land transfer tax revenue. In 2021-22, the total was expected to skyrocket to over $5 billion.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board said earlier this month that a record 121,712 homes were sold through its MLS system last year, up 28% from 2020 and up nearly 8% above the previous 2016 high of 113,040.

The 2021 average selling price reached a high of $1.095 million, up about 18% from the previous year’s high of $929,636.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 19, 2022.

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