55 recommendations were provided to the provincial government on Feb. 8th by the Housing Affordability Task Force. The provincial government convened the body in response to the tripling in average house costs for families over the last 10 years. The Chair of the task force was Jake Lawrence, a senior Scotiabank executive, who sees the real estate situation as a serious crisis that demands “immediate and sweeping” provincial reform. The province will apparently respond with legislation as early as the coming weeks when the House resumes in response to the dire tone of the report.
The biggest target of the report’s findings? The way in which housing is approved. “The way housing is approved and built was designed for a different era. The balance has swung too far in favour of lengthy consultations, bureaucratic red tape and costly appeals.” Media reports have already repeatedly attacked the MZO (Minister’s Zoning Order) route to development approvals that the Ford Government has used over the last three years. A dilution in the public consultation process that Minister’s Zoning Orders create has been a source of serious media ridicule. The task force report is now basically backing up the province with its penchant for approvals speediness – citing the ‘crisis’ like nature of the market. The CBC is already framing the document as a precursor to even further erosion of the consultation process.
Some of the specific recommendations mentioned in the Task Force’s report are:
- Increase density in neighbourhoods zoned exclusively for single-family homes.
- Repeal municipal policies that focus on preserving a neighbourhood’s character.
- Set uniform provincial standards for urban design, including building shadows and setbacks.
- Limit the time spent consulting the public on housing developments.
- Legislate timelines for development approvals, and if the municipality misses the deadline, the project gets an automatic green light.
Some of the key quotes in the report are hard hitting and very telling:
- “The province must set an ambitious and bold goal to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years.”
- “A shortage of land isn’t the cause of the problem, land is available, both inside the existing built-up areas and on undeveloped land outside greenbelts. We need to make better use of land.”
- “NIMBYism is a large and constant obstacle to providing housing everywhere,” the report says. “We cannot allow opposition and politicization of individual housing projects to prevent us from meeting the needs of all Ontarians.”
We strongly encourage our readers to take a look at this landmark 33 page report, as the Legislation it could and likely will inspire will have a massive impact on the market: https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/21199912/ont-housing-report.pdf