Ontario set to introduce bill meant to increase housing supply

TORONTO — Ontario’s housing minister is set to introduce legislation Wednesday aimed at increasing the province’s housing supply.

It comes after a housing affordability task force convened by the government released a report last month offering 55 recommendations, including a goal of building 1.5 million homes in 10 years.

Housing Minister Steve Clark said at the time he was confident he could enact some of the recommendations before the spring election, saying it would be a mix of small and “bold” measures because there isn’t one solution.

House prices in Ontario have nearly tripled in the last 10 years, far outpacing income growth, the report said, but the province is 1.2 million homes — both rental and owned — short of the G7 average.

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Businesses and public services are having trouble recruiting and retaining workers because of a scarcity of nearby housing, which is harming the economy, while long commutes are contributing to air pollution, the report said.

Ontario announced Tuesday it is increasing a tax on non-resident homebuyers from 15 to 20 per cent and is broadening it to the entire province instead of just the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Many of the task force report’s recommendations suggested ways to limit how development can be stifled by local opposition to neighbourhood growth and change.

Those recommendations included eliminating municipal policies that prioritize preserving “neighbourhood character,” exempting projects of 10 units or fewer from public consultation when they only need minor variances, limiting municipalities from hosting consultations beyond what is required in the Planning Act, and banning heritage designations that are made only after a development application is filed.

Municipal zoning rules also need to be changed to allow more homes to be built, the report said. It’s estimated that 70 per cent of the residential land in Toronto is restricted to single-detached or semi-detached homes.

The province allowed secondary suites starting in 2019, but municipalities are still restricting their use _ the total number of secondary suites has actually declined for the past three years, the report said.

The task force also recommended changes to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

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