Fast and Furious: More Homes for Everyone Act, 2022
Earlier this year, the Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force released a report with 55 recommendations for the Ontario government to address the housing crisis.
The Report notes that over the past 10 years the average price of for a house in Ontario has increased 180% while the average household income has only increased 38%. The Task Force finds that this difference is mostly related to a housing shortage which creates scarcity. Canada has the lowest amount of housing per population of any G7 country.
While previous provincial efforts to make homes more affordable have focused on the demand side, the Task Force recommends that the province must fixate its energy on boosting supply. The Task Force sets an ambitious goal for the province: Ontario should build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. This can be achieved by making the building and developing process more efficient and modern, accelerating timelines and approvals, and providing various incentives to build more homes faster.
As a first-step response to the Report, the Ontario government Introduced on March 30, 2022, the More Homes for Everyone Act, 2022 (“Bill 109”), which received Royal Assent on April 14, 2022. Some provisions are immediately in force, while others will wait for a later proclamation or come into force as of July 1, 2022, or January 1, 2023.
Bill 109 amends the following legislations: the Planning Act, the City of Toronto Act, 2006; the Development Charges Act, 1997; the New Home Construction Licensing Act, 2017; and the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act.
Ontario's Planning Act is amended by requiring municipalities to gradually refund application fees, up to 100% refunds, if they fail to meet statutory deadlines for decisions on zoning and site plan applications to protect new homes purchasers and crackdown on land speculation. This penalty-based approach fails to take into account the fact that the sit-plan approval process is not always within every municipality’s full control. In the City of Mississauga for example, site plan applications need to be circulated to commenting agencies and their delays are not within the City’s control.
Bill 109 also includes a “Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator” framework to help municipalities fast-track housing and infrastructure approvals such as hospitals and community centers with transparent consultation and public notice requirements. The legislation does not apply to any lands within the Greenbelt.
The government is also increasing funding to the Ontario Land Tribunal to help reduce the large application backlogs. Under the new legislation, where the Minister is the approval authority for an official plan or amendment, the Minister can choose to either direct matters to the OLT for recommendations or final decisions.
The Bill also amends the New Home Construction Licensing Act by stablishing a requirement that no one can hold themselves out to be a builder, offer to construct a new home or construct a new home unless licensed under the Act to do so.
The Ontario government admits that addressing housing supply will be a long-term strategy which will use the Housing Affordability Task Force’s report as a housing roadmap to develop a new housing supply action plan every year over 4 years to implement the Task Force’s recommendations.
The promise is to give municipalities and home builders the tools and resources they need to increase housing supply, reduce some inefficiencies, and make it easier and faster to build new homes for Ontario families.