Articles: More Homes for Everyone – Provincial Site | OREA Press Release

What kind of provincial election year would it be if we didn’t get some political action on issues we have been speaking about for some time? Yes, this is part two of actions, and needed (RE: More Homes, More Choice Act – Bill 108 circa 2019). Alas, there will be more, and we can chalk this up as a win on the Ford Government.

While the OREA continues to advocate for more action on housing supply, it seems the shift from listening to action is beginning. Below is an outline for what the new Bill will introduce.

  • Build homes faster
  • Changes to foreign investment taxation, and vacant home taxation, across the whole province.
  • Streamline the development application and approvals process and reduce fees (big win for Builders, which means buyers too)
  • Increase consumer protection for purchasers of newly built homes by providing the Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA)
  • Financial incentives during the application process to encourage municipalities to speed up zoning by-law amendments and act within the set legislated timelines
  • Increasing the certainty of development costs for the goal of building more housing and bringing down prices on new homes
  • Provides Tarion with regulatory authority to extend the duration of warranties, so new homeowners can rest assured that they are protected in case something goes wrong with their new home

But at the end of the day, increasing housing supply and choice is the only way to help more people get the keys to their first home and I commend the Ford Government for bringing this Bill forward.

Tim Hudak – OREA CEO:

The general target of these initiative are as follows: Give way to more housing supply, incentivize municipalities to cut the red tape which increases affordability and addresses community development design (Transit-Oriented sought after), increase consumer protection on newly built homes by imposing more strict fines on builders. That last point **may** increase some operating costs for builders, but great builders need not worry – as they adhere to the rules. Pro tip: research your builder.

How This Bill Was Created

The Ford government consulted the public (over 2,000 submission from Ontarians), municipalities, and created the “Housing Affordability Task Force” (add Task Force to anything, and it sounds cooler) which worked in conjunction with the Lean Office in nine municipalities. The Task Force is a four-year program as well, which began this year. So be sure, we are expected to see more help.

Cut That Red Tape

Nobody likes red tape. I get visions of the scene from “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” of the legislation being run by the slowest moving species in existence. While these people are normal humans, and I am sure trying to do their best, they have steps to follow. The problem is – of the “35 OECD countries, only the Slovak Republic takes longer than Canada to approve a building project.” (Task Force Report)

As per the website “We invested up to $350 million to help municipalities across the province make their planning and approvals processes more efficient to identify potential savings, accelerate the creation of new housing and modernize municipal services, through three programs:

This funding will help municipalities streamline and modernize their planning approval processes including official plan amendments, and rezoning, plan of subdivision and site plan applications. Our plan would incentivize municipalities to make timely decisions within realistic timelines.”

Sounds fun(d). Dad jokes allowed on this blog, at all times.

There is quite a lot to read on this, and you can find it all here, but the bulk of the idea is simple:

Evaluate the process > streamline where possible > delegate control to experts > increase logic > build faster, safer, more cost effective

Changes to the Building Code & Innovation

Simply put, the changes are:

  • allow 12-storey mass timber buildings
  • streamline modular multi-unit residential building approvals
  • facilitate more infill and low rise multi-unit housing by exploring opportunities to allow for single means of egress in four to six storey residential buildings, while continuing to protect public health and safety
  • explore safe ways to allow residents and commercial tenants of the lower floors of super-tall buildings under construction to move into their units earlier, so they can find a home and open the doors of their business sooner

“According to a 2020 BILD study, development charges can average about 10% of housing prices.”

Make Better Use of Provincially Owned Lands

“To streamline how the government makes underutilized or surplus properties more productive for their communities, the proposed Centre of Realty Excellence (CORE) would focus on how we can better use approximately 10,000 acres of underused government-owned real estate to meet our most pressing needs, such as new long-term care beds and community housing.”

This is huge – and I love the idea of making the most out of provincial property. It sounds easy, but it needs to be done right, right now. To do that we need the independent experts in community housing to get to work faster, and easier, with incentive and support. This Bill seems to address that, in writing at least.

Protect Buyers, Owners and Renters

There is some big changes here, including:

To prioritize Ontario families and homebuyers, we are increasing the Non-Resident Speculation Tax rate from 15 to 20% and expanding the tax to apply provincewide effective March 30, 2022. We’re also fighting tax avoidance and closing loopholes while making sure that rebates are still available for new permanent residents as Ontario continues to welcome new Canadians.

Just a reminder on that – it includes foreign corporations as well! Another portion, which has yet to be fully defined is also excellent for our area:

We are also working with municipalities that are looking to establish a Vacant Home Tax, which is another tool to increase the supply of housing. The City of Toronto has introduced a Vacant Home Tax, and a number of other municipalities, including Ottawa, are also preparing to implement similar taxes. We will also be establishing a working group with municipal representatives to facilitate the sharing of information and best practices.

This is good news today, and the beginning of a 4-year road map with the Housing Affordability Task Force. Let’s hope that our provincial government can continue to address these issues and let us do our job effectively – finding people homes.