Ontario builders outline steps for new government to address housing crisis

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) says three steps must be taken to boost the housing supply in Ontario.

“There are three critical matters that need to be addressed if we want to reach the goal of 1.5 million homes by 2030,” RESCON president Richard Lyall explained. “These issues cripple the industry’s production.”

Lyall sent a letter to newly re-elected Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark, urging the province to end exclusionary zoning practices by municipalities; digitize and streamline the approvals process ad legislate approval timelines within municipalities, restrict abuses of Heritage Registries, and remove existing zoning barriers to building housing.

Specifically, RESCON wants the province to end exclusionary zoning policies and limit the types of housing that can be built to allow more density and missing middle housing. In Toronto, 70 per cent of land is currently zoned for detached houses only.

Exclusionary zoning restricts even the most modest forms of density in residential neighbourhoods and empowers NIMBY groups that oppose housing. In his letter, Lyall suggests new policies that allow for housing density, including fourplexes, small low-rise apartment buildings and mid-rise housing along avenues and corridors already well served by mass transit.

RESCON is also urging Clark to digitize the approvals process because existing e-permitting programs in many municipalities are siloed and often short-staffed which delays building. An absence of consistency in data and information exchange among stakeholders has resulted in slow adoption of advanced e-permitting systems. If left unaddressed, inefficiencies in the development approvals process will continue to dissuade building, curtail economic growth, and lead to fewer new builds.

To increase housing inventory, RESCON wants the province to “limit municipal overreach by establishing province-wide zoning standards and legislating approval timelines.”

Lyall points to an example in Toronto this past June when the preservation board approved a plan for 225 buildings along subway-friendly Danforth Avenue to be added to the Heritage Register, effectively blocking them from being redeveloped.

“We were pleased that housing was a key issue in the last provincial election, and that the government has pledged to tackle the problem and bring about meaningful changes to boost the supply of housing stock,” Lyall said. “RESCON members are ready, willing and able to help government reach its housing target.”


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