Ontario could include student residences to reach housing targets

Ontario Construction News staff writer

With residential housing starts falling, Ontario is considering adding student accommodations to its definition of new housing as it works to hit a goal of building 1.5 million new homes by 2031.

Ontario reported 89,297 housing starts last year and boosted the number to 109,011 by including long-term care beds and spaces like basement units.

To meet the 1.5 million goal, the province must build 150,000 homes per year.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Paul Calandra says the province will broaden the scope beyond traditional housing starts, now considering long-term care beds and potentially other housing types like student residences.

“We will continue to explore data sources for tracking the numbers of other institutional types of housing such as student residences and retirement homes for future program years and commit to engaging municipalities on the same,” Calandra wrote in a letter to the City of Mississauga.

While acknowledging the need for additional student housing, opposition leaders voiced skepticism over counting these units towards the overall housing goal.

“Instead of stepping up and taking leadership to actually build more homes, this government is busy fudging the numbers,” said Green Party Leader Mike Schriener. “What’s next, counting tents?”

The 1.5 million homes target was to expand housing availability and affordability.

Calandra defended the proposal, stressing the importance of diversifying housing options to alleviate pressure on rental markets.

However, Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie called the plan “false and disingenuous.”

“Paul Calandra can’t convince the Premier to let him legalize gentle density, so he’s trying to mislead us by shifting the goal posts since he’s failing to hit his own targets,” Crombie said Tuesday.


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