On June 6, the Ontario Government passed new legislation to deal with the housing crisis through a five point plan:
1. Speed: cut out government bureaucracy that slows down the development process;
2. Cost: encourage developers to build more housing by reducing the layers of permits, government approvals and charges by municipalities and making these charges more predictable;
3. Mix: make it easier to build different types of housing – from detached houses and townhomes to mid-rise rental apartments, second units and family-sized condos;
4. Rent: make it easier to build rental housing;
5. Innovation: encourage more innovation and creativity in Ontario’s housing sector and make sure government
isn’t standing in the way.This means everything from new housing designs and materials (think high-tech wood products),
to creative approaches to home-ownership and more.
Predictably, local municipalities are up in arms about the new legislation, claiming that it will just put more money in developers’ pockets without leading to more or less costly housing. However, it’s very clear that changes are needed. For example, there are more than 1,000 cases tied up in the Local Plan Appeal Tribunal (LBAT) system that was introduced in 2017.
There are also concerns that developers will run rough-shod over environmental concerns, heritage protection and similar issues.
While I’m no fan of government intervention, it’s clear that present government bureaucracy and controls on development are strangling the supply of housing for rent and for sale, and the spirit of this legislation is definitely in the right direction. It would be wonderful if municipalities would co-operate in simplifying approval processes and encouraging innovation — but given past history I’m not all that optimistic.