by Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On February 8, the Ontario government released its “Report of the Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force,” which focuses on key findings and recommendations on ways to make renting or owning a home more practical for average Ontarians. The report identifies a past problem of attempting to “cool” the housing market without understanding why prices were being inflated. It is now clear that there is simply not enough housing available in Ontario, and this creates supply and demand issues which, in turn, causes prices to skyrocket.
Of course, the important question becomes, “what is the solution?” Concrete recommendations in the report speak to exactly that. The government is hoping to add 1.5 million homes within the next 10 years, largely by reducing red tape. The plan is for more housing to be built in more locations, without the need for municipal approval. Rules which prioritize neighborhood physical characteristics over new housing would be eliminated, and municipal approval would no longer be required for a building’s physical characteristics, such as its colour, or the type of material used.
Other specific recommendations include weeding out appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal, which are suspected as being made solely to delay a build, and increasing funding for municipalities that support positive housing change. Changes to planning policies and zoning rules will be made to allow for greater density and increased housing variety.
The Ontario government’s housing task force is one of many in the province, as many municipalities, including North Grenville, have had their own in the past few years. Housing prices in Ontario have nearly tripled since 2011, with the average home costing $923,000 in 2021. While average prices locally are not this high, our region has been equally affected by housing cost inflation, as interested buyers or renters attempt to outbid each other to secure one of the few homes available. Those who cannot afford to pay inflated prices are then left with few, if any, options.
A press release sent to the Times asserts that the purpose of Ontario’s housing task force was to provide “actionable recommendations” for the province’s housing crisis. “Everyone has a role to play in addressing the housing supply crisis,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “As our government consults with municipalities, the public, and industry leaders and experts, we are balancing these perspectives to develop practical, forward-thinking policies that unlock and fast-track all types of housing for all types of Ontarians.”
The Chair of the task force, Jake Lawrence, added, “Lengthy reviews, bureaucratic red tape, and costly appeals are making it too difficult to build new housing. We propose an ambitious and achievable goal to build 1.5 million homes over the next ten years and the steps needed to get there.”
The full report can be read at files.ontario.ca/mmah-housing-affordability-task-force-report-en-2022-02-07-v2.pdf.