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ontario real estate

Ontario may nix red tape to build millions of homes faster amid huge housing deficit

It's no wonder that Ontario is home to the most expensive real estate market in the country given that the province has the lowest housing supply for its residents of any other, with prices set to keep on rising to hit an average of a shocking $1.2 million in Toronto this year amid soaring demand.

But a new set of formal recommendations from the province's Housing Affordability Task Force, if heeded, will mean some major changes to the way housing projects are approved.

A new report from the group, released Tuesday, advises Premier Doug Ford and his team to change density and zoning rules, among other things, to get 1.5 million new homes up in the next decade.

While it's incontrovertible that more housing is much needed, there are definitely some suggestions that many residents may take issue with, including shortening the timelines for both municipal approvals and public consultation about proposed developments, as well as removing city policies that preserve neighbourhood character.

Given that cities like Toronto already aren't exactly known for doing the most to preserve the few historical buildings we have left, and that those in notoriously wealthy neighbourhoods tend to prefer to keep density at a minimum, there will inevitably be some backlash.

And, there already has been to Ford's employment of controversial Minister's Zoning Orders (MZOs) to move projects ahead with little-to-no municipal or public input.

The many specific suggestions from the task force fall into five main areas that it wants the government to focus on:

  • Make changes to planning policies and zoning to allow for greater density and increase the variety of housing.
  • Reduce and streamline urban design rules to lower costs of development.
  • Depoliticize the approvals process to address NIMBYism and cut red tape to speed up housing.
  • Prevent abuse of the appeal process and address the backlog at the Ontario Land Tribunal by prioritizing cases that increase housing.
  • Align efforts between all levels of government to incentivize more housing.

As members write in their report, "lengthy reviews, bureaucratic red tape, and costly appeals are making it too difficult to build new housing. We propose an ambitious and achievable goal to build 1.5 million homes over the next ten years and the steps needed to get there."

Lead photo by

Richard Eriksson

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