Editor, Ontario Construction News
The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) is asking the provincial government to modernize the development approvals process, boost pathways into the skilled trades and rein in municipalities that have independently put in place their own technical construction standards.
“The government has taken a number of legislative steps to help tackle the housing affordability and supply crisis and we are grateful for that, but many challenges still remain that must be addressed,” RESCON president Richard Lyall said in a statement. “While there are no instant solutions to these issues, we must start by taking action to streamline the system to enable the build of new housing.”
Requests are included in a provincial budget submission to Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, stating further action is needed “as Ontario is in desperate need of housing supply and lagging in terms of innovation and the length of time it takes to get projects approved.”
Specifically, the province should support One Ontario, an electronic development approval and building permit platform, as municipalities are often relying on antiquated paper-based submissions and a cumbersome review process which leads to significant inefficiencies in the process. According to RESCON, regions across the province “could see thousands of additional units built if the permitting process was speeded up.”
The submission also asks the province to;
- match funding with a CMHC pilot project to implement One Ontario in Simcoe County, so the pilot can be expanded to other regions.
- increase support for training and apprenticeship initiatives that will expand and fund pathways into the residential skilled trades and expand the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program to make it easier for immigrants with international experience and specialized skill sets required to build houses and related infrastructure to come to Ontario.
- increase oversight on technical building requirements, as numerous municipalities have acted independently and mandated their own unique rules and are not planning to conform with the increasingly harmonized requirements of the Ontario and national building codes because the process of harmonizing construction requirements across Canada is being jeopardized by municipal jurisdictions that have implemented their own unique technical requirements.
“These are key issues that need to be addressed in order to meet the increasing demand for housing in Ontario,” Lyall said. “Ontario is in dire need of housing, yet we have the lowest supply amongst G7 countries. We also need to attract more workers to our industry as nearly one quarter of the construction workforce in the GTA is set to retire by 2030.
“Thousands more workers will be needed, so we must bring in more immigrants with the skills necessary to build housing and infrastructure.”