‘There’s no silver bullet to fix Ontario’s housing crisis’
Ontario Construction News staff writer
Ontario’s largest municipalities will receive new funding to help speed up development approvals, Premier Doug Ford announced Wednesday at a provincial housing summit.
Ford said his goal for the summit was to come up with concrete ways to allow more families to buy a home.
“What we all know, beyond a doubt, is that Ontario has a housing crisis. It’s no secret,” the Premier said in his opening address at the virtual summit. “It’s the result of decades of inaction by previous governments, those who put ideology ahead of ensuring that our growing population had access to the Ontario dream of home ownership.”
Today, Ford said his government will tackle the issue head-on and the goal is to provide a “full range” of housing options that meet the needs of all Ontarians.
A new $45-million Streamline Development Approval Fund will help the 39 largest municipalities approve housing applications more quickly, Ford said. As well, the province said it will work with municipalities to develop a data standard for planning and development applications that should speed up the processes.
The housing crisis in Ontario won’t be solved overnight, said Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark, but removing red tape can help get more homes built faster.
“There is no silver bullet,” Clark said after the summit. “Addressing Ontario’s housing supply crisis is a long-term strategy that requires long-term commitment, collaboration and coordination.”
A report is expected in the next few weeks from a housing affordability task force, which was appointed to look into measures to boost the supply of rental and ownership housing, reduce red tape, and other options to address housing issues.
Clark said changes to zoning rules to allow for more density are among many suggestions under consideration.
“We need housing of all types,” he said. “We need missing middle, we need that purpose built rental, yes, we need single family as well. But we also need that that mixture of homes that really reflects local communities.”
Ontario’s Opposition New Democrats say they want to see more rent controls and measures to help people buy their first home, as well as stricter rules for speculators.
Ford and Clark will host a meeting on Sunday with rural, remote and northern municipalities to discuss their specific housing challenges.
“Here’s the reality,” Ford said. “We don’t have anywhere near enough housing supply and home prices are still increasing making them beyond reach for too many Ontarians. This crisis affects all corners of the province.”
Figures in Ontario’s fall economic statement show year-to-date home starts were 16 per cent higher than in the previous year, and rental housing starts were 14 per cent higher.
In the resale market, a frenzy peaked in March 2021 at a record high, before moderating by September. But in that month the average home resale price in Ontario was 31.4 per cent higher than the February 2020 pre-pandemic level.
The government pointed to low interest rates, higher overall disposable incomes, limited resale listings and shifting home preferences to explain the strong demand.
Telling figures illustrating the province’s heated housing markets can also be found in the land transfer tax revenue. In 2020-21, Ontario collected about $3.7 billion in revenue from land transfer taxes. In 2021-22, the total was projected to skyrocket to more than $5 billion.
The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board said earlier this month that a record 121,712 homes were sold through its MLS system last year, up 28 per cent compared with 2020 and nearly eight per cent above the previous 2016 high of 113,040.
The average 2021 selling price set a peak of $1.1 million, up about 18 per cent from the high the prior year of $929,636.