Oct. 31, 2022
On Tuesday, the Ontario government proposed broad housing modifications that would, in certain situations, overrule municipal zoning regulations and allow for the construction of up to three units on a single residential site.
Elements of the proposed bill were first made public at a ticketed event attended by Premier Doug Ford and Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clarke at the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
Ford told the crowd that the third installment of his government's housing action plan will include "new ideas" that will allow the next generation of Ontarians to buy a home.
"There's no time to waste," he added. "Previous governments recognized the crisis coming but completely disregarded it."
"You have to have a strong enough backbone to go out there and make those difficult judgments." Our administration will never disregard the countless Ontario families in need of a place to live."
The government introduced the More Homes, Built Faster Act on Tuesday, which includes a number of legislative changes and proposals that they claim will help "build housing faster and bring costs down," allowing the Progressive Conservatives to meet their goal of building 1.5 million homes in ten years.
As part of this proposal, the PCs would override local zoning restrictions to allow for the construction of more "missing middle" houses without the need for further planning permissions.
The legislation allows for up to three apartments on a single residential property without the need for bylaw modifications or municipal authorization. The government provides an example of a basement apartment and garden or laneway home that might be developed on a property and rented out to renters. Regardless of local zoning restrictions, duplexes and triplexes might be erected on single residential properties.
Municipalities would be prohibited from imposing unit size limitations or requiring more than one parking spot per unit under the law.
Under the new law, these units would be free from development and parkland dedication costs.
Development charges are fees collected from developers to help pay for municipal services or infrastructure such as roads and transportation.
Officials anticipate that this will result in a "wider mix of rental dwellings."
The Ontario government has also said that housing objectives would be assigned to 29 big communities based on population size and growth.
The City of Toronto will be responsible for the construction of 285,000 new dwellings by 2031 as part of the housing law.
Ottawa has a housing target of 161,000 units, Mississauga has a target of 120,000 units, and Brampton has a target of 113,000 units.
Each city will be required to create "pledges" describing how they will reach the objectives. Clarke would not elaborate on what would happen if municipalities did not fulfill their housing objectives, stating simply that he hoped municipalities will up to the task.
"We'll work together with those larger cities where we've begun a housing promise," he said, adding that housing was a key topic in municipal elections across the province.
As of far, no new financial expenditures were announced Tuesday to assist these towns in meeting their objectives or making up the difference lost due to the lowering of development levies and fees.
CHANGES IN DEVELOPMENT CHARGES AND FEES
Ontario would also eliminate costs for affordable housing, non-profit housing, and "inclusionary zoning units," as well as reduce construction charges by up to 25% for family-sized rental units.
Conservation authority costs for development permits will be temporarily halted.
Conservation authorities will no longer be required to consider considerations such as pollution or land conservation when issuing permit requirements, according to government officials. Instead, development laws would be simplified to focus on natural dangers such as floods and erosion.
They will also combine the province's 36 conservation authorities into a single organization.
A number of proposals would allow the government to "streamline processes" for building housing, such as removing the requirement for municipalities to hold public meetings for every development draft plan, focusing site plan reviews on health and safety issues rather than landscaping details, and allowing ministry staff to make certain decisions on aggregate development applications without waiting for ministerial approval.
The province also says it would limit third-party appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal for official plan revisions, zoning bylaw amendments, and "small deviations and consents," which include appeals brought by people or community organizations who are not directly engaged in the development process.
The administration claims that this would expedite approvals and lower caseloads at the tribunal.
Clarke stated that residents' organizations or environmental groups can still file appeals with the city council.
"We're passed the stage of NIMBYs," he remarked. "We're not in 'not in my backyard.'"
"You can't keep doing what you're doing."
While the PCs are decreasing a lot of costs, they are also boosting sanctions for "bad actors" who terminate contracts or cancel projects like pre-construction homes.
If passed, this plan would raise the maximum penalty from $25,000 to $50,000, with the money going to customers harmed by the decision.
These new rules take effect on the same day that the government hiked the non-resident speculation tax on properties acquired by foreign nationals from 20% to 25%, the highest tax rate in Canada.
The tax increase takes effect today.
Meanwhile, the New Democratic Party expressed worry over whether the proposed law will provide enough inexpensive housing in comparison to what the province refers to as "attainable housing."
"It appears that this law is beneficial for new house construction, but we have some concerns about whether this bill will produce affordable homes," MPP Jessica Bell told reporters.
"We have some worries about whether this measure will allow towns to offer the essential services when new developments come online, and we have a lot of concerns about what this bill would entail for tenants and those experiencing homelessness."
If passed, the housing law will take effect in the summer of 2023, according to the administration.
Ontario has announced that the non-resident speculation tax on houses acquired by foreign nationals will be raised from 20% to 25% beginning Tuesday.
According to Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, the measure will raise Ontario's tax rate to the highest in Canada and will discourage international investment.
In March, the Progressive Conservative administration raised the non-resident speculation tax from 15% to 20% and expanded it to encompass the entire province, rather than simply the Greater Golden Horseshoe region of southern Ontario.
Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark will also propose housing legislation Tuesday, as the government aims to build 1.5 million houses in ten years.
According to Clark, hiking the tax is another step toward resolving Ontario's housing issue.
The last housing law proposed by the government granted so-called strong mayor powers to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa, allowing them to reject council motions that conflicted with housing construction.
The non-resident speculation tax was predicted to bring in $175 million in Ontario's budget this year.