London council approves new targeted actions to address housing supply as it reports $28 billion budget surplus

Ontario Construction News staff writer

London city council has approved new targeted actions aimed at accelerating the housing supply and supporting the provincial government’s goal of creating 47,000 new homes by 2031.

The new actions were developed in collaboration with local building and development stakeholders as part of the city’s efforts to address the current housing crisis.

The document identifies planning and economic development service area actions, timelines, development tracking and reporting methods for various housing unit types across different stages of the development application process.

The priorities outlined in the document include modernizing zoning by-laws, diversifying housing options, intensifying development, providing programs and incentives for redevelopment, and streamlining the planning process to reduce approval times.

The city says the new actions align with the industry’s priorities and identify responsibilities and shared advocacy opportunities between the city and the development industry in working with the federal and provincial governments to secure policy changes and funding opportunities.

During Housing Supply Reference Group discussions, the following key priorities were identified by the London development industry partners:

  • Increase the supply of land for residential land uses
  • Create a more modern, flexible Zoning By-law law that implements the policy framework of The London Plan
  • Provide programs and incentives to continue redevelopment and growth opportunities
  • Provide opportunities for a variety of housing types and choice to address affordability
  • Enhance performance measurement and development application tracking
  • Reduce approval times and streamline planning and building processes

“The targeted actions highlight the key work required to improve London’s housing supply,” says Scott Mathers, deputy city manager of planning and economic development.

“They provide us with direction and priorities moving forward to ensure we have housing in communities that are exciting, exceptional, and connected.”

Meanwhile, council has approved a $28 million surplus for 2023, which will be used to reduce debt and invest in infrastructure improvements.

london development planThe surplus was generated by higher than anticipated interest rates, delays in property tax reassessment and delays in implementing the green bin program, according to a news release issued by the city April 23.

Approximately $14 million of the surplus will be allocated to reducing future debt issuance, which will help lower property tax increases for residents. The city expects to reduce $330 million of additional property tax supported debt over the next four years as a result.

Another $7 million will go toward one-time investments in roads, bridges, parks and other infrastructure, while the remaining $3 million will be allocated to the creation of two reserve funds to support long-term infrastructure needs.

The city says it expects the infrastructure investments to improve the quality of life for residents and support economic growth in the long term.

Moody’s Investors Service has given the city a credit rating of Aaa, the highest possible, for 47 consecutive years, citing the surplus as a contributing factor.

The 2023 year-end surplus approved by city council is $28 million, and $3 million is going toward water debt reduction.


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