Builders’ groups support Housing Supply Action plan

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Associations representing the building industry have expressed enthusiasm about the province’s Housing Supply Action Plan.

The Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) called the plan “visionary”.

“A healthy housing system exists when a city or region has the right mix of housing choice and supply, OHBA CEO Joe Vaccaro said in a statement. “The province’s Housing Supply Action Plan lays the groundwork for ore homes to be built, which leads to more choice and affordability.”

OHBA president Rick Martins expressed similar sentiments, saying that the action plan “is a very comprehensive plan with legislative, regulatory and policy actions for numerous ministries.”

“Here’s what’s important: this government wants to address barriers, reduce red tape and streamline the approvals process to create more housing choice and supply for homebelievers in Ontario,” he said.

“As a renovator, we want to be able to tell our clients how long it will take to get approvals and what it will cost,” said Jamie Adam, OHBA executive board member and member of the Waterloo Region Home Builders’ Association.

“The housing Supply Action Plan is a practical step toward making the changes needed to improve the health of Ontario’s housing system.  A well-functioning housing system provides stability to both owners and renters, and allows for a mix of housing at prices people can afford in places that meet their needs,” said Vaccaro.

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), representing builders and developers int the Greater Toronto Area, said it supports the government announcement as an important step in addressing the barriers to new ownership and rental housing.

“The challenge is a basic one,” said David Wilkes, BILD’s president and CEO. “Previous government policies and procedures have created structural barriers to the efficient operation of the housing market which has resulted in a generational shortfall of housing. Today, the ford government has signalled its intent to address this problem to ensure that the right type of housing is built at the right price across the GTA.”

BILD says in its statement that the current complex regulatory environment means it can take as long as 10 years to complete an average high-rise project and 11 years to complete an average low-rise project across the GTA.  In addition BILD says government fees, taxes and charges add as much as 25 per cent of the cost of an average new home in the region.

“It just takes too long to build new housing in the GTA,” said Wilkes. “This restricts supply and negatively impacts affordability.  When you then layer on a disproportionate share of the cost for new infrastructure, parks and municipal services to new homes, you now have the recipe for what we are currently experiencing.”

BILD says changes to LPAT, including ensuring the organization is sustainably resourced, will help resolve the backlog. Currently there are as many as 1,000 cases representing almost 100,000 housing units across Ontario waiting for consideration at the tribunal.

The overall focus on reducing red tape and speeding approvals through modifications to the Provincial Policy Statement, The Ontario Heritage Act, The Environmental Assessment Act and many others will enable the industry to unlock housing supply, BILD says.

‘We need to move all types of housing across the GTA – homes for purchase, for rent and social housing,” Wilkes said.  “We look forward to working with all levels of government to address housing supply and affordability as the consultation on the proposed changes continues.”

The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON), meanwhile, said that the action plan “paves a pathway for the province to start patching up its shattered housing system and failed policies of the past.”

“Bringing more supply to the market will ultimately help desperately needed affordability and housing choices, including the missing middle,” said RESCON president Richard Lyall. “It will also open up the province’s broken rental market.”

“Delays, duplication and red tape were chocking supply, raising cost and hurting young families. The government’s Action Plan will make projects more predictable to do business, lower risk and increase investment and jobs.

“Meanwhile we are committed to working with the government to help roll out their vision,” he said. “Government and industry can work together to help Ontarians make the dream of home ownership a reality.”

While the Action Plan support is nearly universal in the business community, voices from some community leaders give another perspective to the changes.

Toronto Ward 12 City Councillor Josh Matlow said in a tweet: “The Doug Ford government has announced the return of OMB rules, and a handover of the planning process to the development industry and their lobbyists – making life less affordable to residents and ensuring needed services and infrastructure won’t keep up with the pace of growth.”

Aurora Mayor Tom Mrakas expressed similar sentiments, tweeting that: “Once again, an unelected, unaccountable body will get to decide what’s best for our community when it comes to growth and development. This is not a decision ‘for the people.’ The ability to manage growth in our communities has just taken a HUGE step backwards and it is unacceptable.”

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