Ontario Construction News staff writer
Representatives from Waterloo Region are pushing Premier Doug Ford for “urgent and transformative change” for all residents impacted by housing affordability and homelessness.
The Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo joined with the Region of Waterloo to meet virtually with the Premier and Housing minister Steve Clark at last week’s provincial housing affordability summit.
Collaboratively, participants identified additional measures to increase the supply of housing and make it easier for residents and families to find a home that meets their needs and budget.
“Affordability is becoming more challenging across the housing continuum. Today’s Housing Affordability Summit was an important forum for mayors and regional chairs from across Ontario to have frank, solutions-oriented conversations with the provincial government about the housing crisis,” said Regional chair Karen Redman.
“Together, there are opportunities to make community planning synonymous with digitization, data sharing, efficiency, sustainability and equity. We look forward to future consultation with senior levels of government, as well as the collective, transformative action that is required to address the housing crisis. Affordable housing for both buyers and renters is critical for communities like the Region of Waterloo to thrive.”
Ford hosted the summit and announced 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.
“Housing affordability is an issue that needs all hands on deck and all levels of government at the same table working for a better future for our cities and province. Today was a good step toward that,” said City of Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry.
“We need to find creative and concrete solutions and take a hard look at policies and procedures across the board to ease the pressures that are driving up housing prices. In doing so we need to also increase the supply of affordable and supportive housing. Everyone deserves a home.”
The provincial government is expecting a report early this year 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 says changes to zoning rules to allow for more density are among many suggestions under consideration.
“By bringing all orders of government together along with other stakeholders such as residents, the homebuilding industry, the not-for-profit sector and those that control capital, we will have the greatest chance of succeeding to meaningfully address the scope of this nation-wide challenge,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic.
“This is not a problem that developed overnight, but today’s Provincial-Municipal Housing Affordability Summit builds on our previous work and moves us towards a long-term strategy and a coordinated approach that will best benefit the residents of our community, our province and our country.”