The province of Ontario announced the details of its More Homes, More Choice: Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan, and it immediately received praise and support from leaders in the new home industry.
The Housing Supply Action Plan includes legislative amendments to 13 government Acts, aiming to streamline the development approvals process, allow for more predictable timelines, and also streamline the new rental housing development process. According to the Action Plan document, it can take approximately 10 years to complete a new low-rise or high-rise residential development in the Greater Toronto Area.
“It just takes too long to build new housing in the GTA,” says Dave Wilkes, President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association. “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.”
The Plan focuses on five themes: Speed, cost, mix, rent, and innovation. The province consulted with the public, businesses and industry members to formulate the changes that needed to be made in order to start building more housing. The province says that 85% of the 2,000 submissions they received were from the general public.
"Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, a family looking for a larger apartment to rent or a senior hoping to downsize, our action plan puts people first," says Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "Combined with our government's investment in renewed community housing, our Housing Supply Action Plan is sending a clear message that no matter what your situation you can count on our government to always put people first."
One of the key takeaways we noticed in the Action Plan was that the province plans to help municipalities create a community planning permit system, which ideally will streamline planning approvals to 45 days. Considering approvals can take a year (or longer), this would be pretty amazing.
Another thing that stood out to us was that the province plans to make development charges more predictable from the onset of a project, and also reduce charges for priority housing like secondary units. Speaking of secondary units, the Action Plan also makes it easier to build residential units above your garage, in your basement, or in your laneway.
There’s a strategy to accommodate Ontario’s growing population with the Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. It looks like the foundation of this plan is to facilitate the building of new housing near major transit nodes.
A cost saving measure that we’re not too thrilled about is the removal of the requirement to include infrastructure for electric vehicle charging. Though this may save costs, we feel like mandating sustainability features is necessary if we’re going to ever scale back our impact on the environment.
“A healthy housing system exists when a city or region has the right mix of housing choice and supply,” says Joe Vaccaro, CEO of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association. “The province’s Housing Supply Action Plan lays the groundwork for more homes to be built, which leads to more choice and affordability.”
We’re interested to see how these big changes impact Ontario’s new home building industry, as well as the resale and rental markets. Read through the Housing Supply Action Plan here!