In an effort to speed up the construction of new housing, the province of Ontario is proposing the creation of a new administrative authority to conduct and oversee building services.
"For many years the building sector and the public have been calling on government to do a better job of providing a range of services related to the Building Code," says Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "We are proposing some solutions and are launching a consultation to find out what people think."
The idea is that a better understanding of the Building Code along with a suite of e-tools would get housing built quicker. The administrative authority would focus on developing and supporting e-permitting for municipalities, increase the number of building inspectors, support and educate Building Code professionals, and offer additional building services to small, rural, and northern municipalities.
The seemingly most important thing here is the development of e-permitting, and it’s actually somewhat surprising that this isn’t already an electronic process. In 2018, more than 131,000 building permits were issued, and it wasn’t done electronically! This definitely slows down the whole development process.
"A new administrative authority for building services in Ontario could address a range of municipal challenges. E-permitting, for example, would help streamline development. It could also help with capacity issues, training and retention of building officials, and improved enforcement of building codes," says AMO President, Jamie McGarvey, Mayor, Town of Parry Sound. "AMO looks forward to working with the Province to ensure the initiative meets these goals. To create safe and thriving communities, we need to make sure we get this right."
Public consultation on the new administrative authority is open until November 25, 2019. Members of the new home building industry have been asking for a quicker approval process, so this is the time to get in your two cents!
Ontario also announced a new “innovation guide,” which is designed to help people add secondary units to their primary homes. The idea is that if more people have a better understanding of how to add a rental unit to their primary residence, more people will do it. This benefits the homeowner because of the income generated by rent, and also increases rental supply.
"This guide is a useful tool to home owners who are looking to create new rental units as well as the municipalities who approve the suites," says Matt Farrell, President, Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA). "It translates complex building code language into user-friendly information that will help all applicants as they move through the process of developing secondary suites. It needs to be at the front counter of every municipal office so building officials can advise residents accordingly."
We’re eager to see if either of these changes amount to more affordable housing in Ontario!