Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark told about 300 attendees of the West End Homebuilders luncheon that Ontario is in the midst of a housing crisis and that it will take all three levels of government, working with the private sector to ease the situation. Said Clark, “In 2020, the year after our Housing Supply Action Plan was implemented, Ontario had over 81,000 housing starts, the highest level in a decade, and over 11,000 rental starts, the highest level since 1992. This great progress continued in 2021: Ontario had over 100,000 housing starts, the highest level since 1987, and more than 13,000 rental starts, the highest level in 30 years.”
He told the builders that the provincial Land planning review process is part of the problem, and the Province is going to give more resources to the Ontario Land Tribunal in order to speed up hearings.
Clark made it clear that the province wants to see a solution that involves all forms of housing. – “Weve heard the need to: Encourage more family-sized homes and depoliticize the planning process; Take an all of government approach to make better use of surplus public lands; Streamline bureaucratic processes that prevent housing from being built at the pace and price that Ontarians need; Address speculation; and make it easier and less expensive to build housing, including affordable housing, where it makes sense to build. That means aligning housing with major transit investments that our government is making in the west end, like the Hamilton LRT that will attract even more families and businesses to this area.”
Mike Collins Williams, CEO of the West End Homebuilders, said in Hamilton there are numerous situations where councillors side with opponents of intensification, “with eyes wide open that it will be overturned at the OLT.” He said the practice is most prevalent in the fourth year of an election cycle, such as we are now in.
This is probably the reason the Ontario government is working to strengthen the ability of the OLT to rule on local planning disputes; and with increased resources, to do it more quickly. Hamilton is expected to add another 200,000 residents in the next 30 years, a fact, that coupled with the decision to hold the urban boundary at current limits, will require an unprecedented amount of high rise intensification.