Home National housing Ontario housing task force recommends ways to increase supply

Ontario housing task force recommends ways to increase supply

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TORONTO — Ontario needs to build more housing quickly and aggressively to address the province’s housing crisis, by increasing density and limiting consultations and appeals, expert advisers said Tuesday.

A housing affordability task force convened by the provincial government last year released a report with 55 recommendations to help more people in Ontario find and afford housing, including the goal of build 1.5 million homes in 10 years.

Home prices in Ontario have nearly tripled in the past 10 years, far outpacing income growth, the report says, but the province is at 1.2 million homes — both rented and owned — in below the G7 average. Businesses and utilities are struggling to recruit and retain workers due to a scarcity of nearby housing, hurting the economy, while long commutes contribute to air pollution, according to the report.

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For too long, the province has focused on ways to “cool down” the market, but that won’t fill the housing need, the report said.

“More supply is key,” the task force members wrote in their report.

“Building more homes will reduce competition for our limited supply of homes and provide Ontarians with more housing choices. This will improve housing affordability at all levels.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark said he was confident he could pass some of the solutions through legislation or regulations or both before the spring election.

“It’s a very complex problem. There is no quick fix,” he said in an interview.

“We are going to have to take a variety of steps, small and some bold as well, to get closer to that number (of 1.5 million). So I’m very pleased with the feedback we’ve received. And now I’m focused… How are we going to set this up? How are we going to build these houses faster? »

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When the task force was proposed in November, critics dismissed the move as meaningless, saying advocates and experts had long offered solutions to the housing crisis. The task force’s report on Tuesday said it was able to work under such a tight deadline “because in almost all cases the viewpoints and workable solutions are well known.”

Clark said it was an important opportunity for the government to have “forward-thinking ideas and bold recommendations on the table”.

“Some groups might argue that an individual recommendation has been in the public domain for some time, but given the magnitude of the fact that demand has so far outstripped supply, we felt we needed a group of work that hasn’t sat down and met for years and years and years, but come in, looked at the problem and gave us a recommendation very quickly.”

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Many of the recommendations suggest ways to limit how development can be stifled by NIMBYism (not in my backyard) – the objection to development in one’s neighborhood – which the task force describes as a “major obstacle” to construction. more homes and has a disproportionate impact on young people, people of color and marginalized people.

“Turn-back from the neighborhood prolongs the approval process, drives up costs and discourages investment in housing. It also keeps new residents out,” the task force said.

The report recommends eliminating municipal policies that prioritize the preservation of “neighborhood character” – which can prevent the construction of even simple housing on existing homes where rules otherwise permit – as well as d ‘exempting projects of 10 units or less from public consultation when they only need minor derogations. , and limiting municipalities to hold consultations beyond what is required in the Planning Act.

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Pressure to designate buildings as “heritage” is also impeding development, the report said. Some municipalities list thousands of properties at once as having “potential” heritage value, and neighbors often require a building to receive heritage designation as soon as a development is proposed, the task force said.

Responsive heritage designations — made after a development application has been filed — should be banned, as should mass heritage listings, the report recommends.

The task force is also recommending changes to the Ontario Land Tribunal, where it said a single person appealing a development can tie up new housing for years by paying a $400 fee.

Potential appellants should have to seek permission – or ask permission – to appeal, the report recommends, and the right to appeal should be waived for projects with at least 30% affordable housing. Additionally, third-party calls should require a $10,000 fee, he said.

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The court also needs more funding to increase its staff and eliminate a backlog of 1,300 cases, while relying more on oral decisions with written reasons to follow, the task force recommended.

Municipal zoning rules also need to be changed to allow more homes to be built, according to the report. It is estimated that 70% of residential land in Toronto is for single or semi-detached homes.

“As one person said, ‘My neighbor can tear down what was there to build a monster house, but I’m not allowed to add a basement to my house,'” the group said. job.

The province allowed secondary suites starting in 2019, but municipalities are still restricting their use — the total number of secondary suites has actually declined over the past three years, according to the report.

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Municipal approval steps should be waived for residential dwellings of up to four units on a single lot, secondary suites, garden suites and laneway suites, multi-tenant dwellings and the conversion of underprivileged commercial properties. used in residences, he recommended.

Additionally, if in two years provincial density targets are not met, zoning for unlimited height and density immediately around transit stations should be permitted, the task force said.

The task force was chaired by Jake Lawrence, CEO and Group Head, Global Banking and Markets at Scotiabank. Members also included developers, real estate executives and the CEO of Native Housing Services of Ontario.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 8, 2022.

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