Ontario Passes Housing Bill, Commits to 1.5 Million New Homes in Next Decade

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The Ontario provincial government passed Bill 23 on Nov. 28, a controversial housing bill that will set a goal of the construction of 1.5 million new homes in the next 10 years.

The More Homes Built Faster Act was introduced last month to address the province’s housing crisis. The bill will remove development charges for affordable and nonprofit housing. It will also override some municipal zoning laws and waive some development fees, community benefits charges, and parkland levies.

The bill could allow up to three units, duplexes, or triplexes on a single residential lot without needing to amend bylaws or get permission from municipalities. A separate but related bill, the Greenbelt Act, will open up parts of the Greater Toronto Area greenbelt for new construction. The Ford government plans to remove about 7,400 acres of currently protected Greenbelt lands and shift it by adding 9,400 acres elsewhere.

Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Clark said there is a severe housing crisis in Ontario. “We have a big problem. It’s a crisis and we need all three levels of government doing their part,” he said.

“I happen to think that having an incentive to build more non-profit housing, more affordable housing, more inclusionary zoning, I think having a deep discount for family-sized rentals, is good public policy.”

Some municipalities said they will receive less money for developer fees on new housing construction, which they used for infrastructure enhancements. Others have raised concerns the bill will raise property taxes and reduce tenant protection if they live in a condo. Toronto Council said the city could lose $230 million a year in developer and community charges that it uses in part to fund affordable housing projects.

Clark said the province is entitled to about $1.5 billion from the federal government to fund housing.

Jessica Bell, NDP MPP and housing critic, said rental buildings could be turned into luxury condos. “And the renters no longer have the right to return to their unit at about the same rent as they paid before,” Bell said. “It will be very bad for affordability. Bill 23 is very bad for renters.”

“Bill 23 will make Ford’s developer buddies even richer, while hurting Ontarians by making the housing crisis even worse,” said Bell.

“If we are truly going to build affordable housing in this province, if all the mayors and councillors who said during their municipal election they want to [incentivize] more housing opportunity in their communities, this is a way that the government has very clearly said we wanted to investigate,” Clark told reporters Nov. 28, after the bill had passed.

Marnie Cathcart

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Marnie Cathcart is a reporter based in Edmonton.



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