There is increasing concern over the lack of affordable housing options in Ontario, and the province has responded by announcing changes to allow more building of homes by developers.
In a recent press release, the government announced changes to the regional growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe area that would “make it faster and easier to build housing for the growing number of people who will live and work in the region in the next 20 years. The changes would allow municipalities and developers to work together to build communities that address local needs and priorities.”
“We believe there are too many barriers standing in the way of creating housing and attracting investment in the region,” said Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “That is why we are proposing changes to the region’s growth plan to increase housing supply and bring down costs.
Clark believes the changes would allow communities to build more housing around transit areas, attract investment and simply growth planning in rural areas.
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However, the Ontario NDP disputed those rosy predictions, saying that these changes only pave the way for more urban sprawl.
“The Ontario NDP is concerned that the Ford Conservatives are paving the way for more sprawl with their proposal to decimate sustainable growth targets in the province’s growth plan. More sprawl means less pedestrian and transit-friendly development, and more congestion and environmental damage — as well as higher infrastructure and servicing costs. The people of Ontario should not be forced to pay the price just because Doug Ford wants to set the stage for his developer friends to do whatever they want,” says the NDP Housing Critic Suze Morrison.
A statement from the group Environmental Defence says this move was another example of the government bowing to sprawl developers, saying that previous reports have indicated there was enough existing land in the GTA to build additional housing up to 2041.
Tim Gray, the Executive Director of Environmental Defence, highlighted some other points:
Sprawl driven planning that will weaken provincial land rules and allow urban boundary expansion without any justifying evidence.
Weakened density targets would allow more low density sprawl.
Urban boundaries will be allowed to expand onto farmland at the behest of developers instead of only during planning reviews.
Employment lands will be allowed to be converted to residential and other uses. This change underscores the fact that there are currently, in place, employment lands in excess of demand, which contradicts the government’s assertions in Bill 66 that more employment land is needed.
Massive farmland grab allowing it to be converted to employment lands, despite the absence of demonstrated need.
No new affordable housing or a specified mandate to create affordable housing.
No mention of climate change in municipal plans.
Increased transit density will be allowed within 800 metres of existing and future transit stations. The current zone is 500 metres so this will increase the area where greater density can be developed. This may be beneficial in some areas.
What do you think of Doug Ford’s ambitious plan to build more housing? Do you think this move could solve the affordable housing crunch?