Doug Ford’s government has been stressing this need to cut red tape and regulation in order to make Ontario “open for business,” as the signs say.
As part of reaching that goal, the government recently announced that they would be selling surplus government properties. The improved plan will “reduce red tape, create more affordable housing and long-term care spaces and put more money in people’s pockets,” as stated in their press release.
“Ontario currently has hundreds of vacant surplus properties across the province, costing the government millions of tax dollars a year to maintain,” said Minister of Government and Consumer Services Bill Walker. “Our plan is about working harder, smarter and more efficiently so we can reduce costs, generate much needed revenue and make life better for the people of Ontario.”
The province announced that as part of these pending sales, they can easily identify which properties could be used for affordable housing and long-term care projects. They also believe government departments and levels of government can benefit from reduced red tape so that identified properties can be efficiently put back to productive use in communities.
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Through this plan, the provincial government is hoping to accomplish the following:
Reducing red tape and accelerating sales of surplus government properties will.
Put 243 properties, approximately 14,600 acres, back into productive use in the next four years.
Generate roughly $105 to $135 million in net revenue for government over four years.
Save taxpayers’ money by reducing liabilities and ongoing maintenance costs on vacant properties.
Deliver an annual cost savings and liability reduction of almost $9.6 million.
Remove an estimated 150 days of administrative time.
Looking at an online list of properties for sale and use under Infrastructure Ontario, there are three properties in Oakville that are up for sale:
A 43 acre piece of land at Burnhamthorpe Road and Highway 403 priced at $14,650,000 (‘excellent future development opportunities’)
A 25-acres stormwater management facility at Upper Middle Road and Highway 403
A 66 acre stormwater management facility at 2165 Dundas Street West in Oakville.
According to the government, these proposals align with an Ernst & Young report identifying the importance and opportunity of selling surplus government property to reduce costs and monetize assets.
It is also consistent with the 2017 Auditor General Value for Money Audit of government realty that recommended the government sell vacant buildings to reduce liabilities and ongoing maintenance costs.
With all the talk of setting up cannabis stores, the need for additional affordable housing and new business, there’s certainly a lot of options for what to do with this surplus land that the government wants to sell off.
What do you think should go on this land?