Detractors of the Ford plan should offer alternative solutions to Ontario’s housing crisis | Daily News Byte

Detractors of the Ford plan should offer alternative solutions to Ontario’s housing crisis 

 | Daily News Byte


In an effort to address Ontario’s housing affordability crisis, the Ford government recently passed a bill intended to stimulate home building around the province. The government is also considering allowing development on some Greenbelt lands surrounding the GTA.

Regardless of your view on the government’s latest moves, everyone agrees there is a problem. Ontario’s housing shortage is so painfully obvious that it’s just that—painful. Ask anyone looking to rent or buy their first home. At its root, it is an issue of supply and demand; too few houses for too many would-be buyers and renters. When demand exceeds supply, prices rise.

If you prefer numbers, consider that in the 1970s about one home (on average) was built annually for every 1.2 new Ontarians compared to 2.4 new Ontarians in the most recent decade. In other words, the rate of new homes compared to new Ontarians is half what it was in the 1970s. Similarly, the GTA rental vacancy rate averaged nearly 3 percent in the 2000s but dropped to less than 1.5 percent in the 2010s. No matter how you slice it, there aren’t enough homes to accommodate current and prospective Ontarians. This is bad news for renters, buyers, and anyone who wants to put down roots in Ontario. It’s also bad news for the economy, social cohesion, and the very idea of ​​Ontario as an upwardly mobile society.

Which brings us back to the very last piece of housing legislation Ford passed—the More Houses Done Faster—and aims to significantly reduce both the number of regulatory hurdles facing homebuilders and limit the power of local governments to block housing development.

The sweeping law allows up to three housing units “as-of-right” (that is, without rezoning) on ​​single-family parcels across the province, exempting non-profit housing from development charges, refocused the role of the Ontario Land Tribunal, curtailed the powers of conservation authorities, and excluded projects of less than 10 units from site plan approval (a major step in the development approval process ). Time will tell if these changes are enough, and indeed some argue that they have not gone far enough. Regardless, the legislation represents a major change in the way Ontario approves housing.

Not surprisingly, these measures have drawn criticism from some municipal governments and city planners. By removing important steps in the approvals process, or by exempting some homes from development fees, the province has diminished city hall’s power to shape growth and revenue. which it can increase from here.

Another recent decision by the Ford government on housing—to remove some land from the Greenbelt while expanding it elsewhere—has also drawn the ire of conservationists, many of whom are already opposed to any reduction in the authority’s powers. in conservation housing approvals.

Of course, some of these concerns may be valid, especially concerns about transparency; proper analysis is needed in any government decision. However, Ontario’s housing crisis requires an appropriate response. If the detractors feel the More Houses Done Faster harm local planning processes, they must also recognize the damage caused by the housing shortage. If this law is inadequate or inappropriate, what alternatives do they offer to close the gap between supply and demand?

Right now, it’s mostly radio silence.

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The government’s new law, while not perfect, is a good step towards further housing development, which is key to increasing affordability. However, if its reforms fall short and offer no viable alternatives, Ontario will not be able to meet its housing targets, which are supported by all parties. Rhetoric is easy. Without credible policy commitments, however, we would not get significantly different results.

Time will tell how everything works out, but the important thing is progress. Ontario has long passed the stage of debating whether or not to change the way housing communities are planned and approved. Changes are overdue, and the Ford government has made some serious proposals. Anyone who opposes these proposals must offer constructive alternatives. In other words, they must explain how Ontario can close the growing gap between the number of homes we need and the number available. Because unless that happens, housing in the province will remain out of reach for so many.


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