Builders give Ontario budget 1.5 thumbs up

Home builders in Ontario have given the 2015 Ontario budget the thumbs up – citing infrastructure investment that is ultimately good news for homebuyers.

In the Ontario budget released on April 23, the province committed to the largest public infrastructure investment in Ontario’s history – more than $130 billion over 10 years

Highlights include:

  • $31.5 billion over 10 years for Moving Ontario Forward — about $16 billion in transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and about $15 billion in transportation and other priority infrastructure projects outside the GTHA
  • $11.9 billion in 2015-16 on infrastructure, such as roads, public transit, water systems, hospitals and schools

Along with reducing gridlock, new transit projects should support the province’s investment-ready communities initiative and the creation of new housing and employment centres, says the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA).

“People need better transit options,” says OHBA President Vince Molinaro. “The province’s massive transit investment should support the creation of transit-supported communities across Ontario. Building complete communities along those transit lines makes sense and will provide new housing and employment options and choice where people can live, work and play.”

The next step is for municipalities to support this provincial investment by creating land-use plans that generate the ridership necessary to support long-term operations for transit infrastructure, OHBA says. In the past, the association has recommended provincial funding be directly linked to a municipal requirement to immediately update the land-use planning and zoning in those transit corridors. The province must ensure that there are strong municipal requirements to align all transit investment with land-use planning by requiring appropriate density zoning along those corridors.

TTC streetcar along St. Clair Ave. W. Photo: Wayne Karl

TTC streetcar along St. Clair Ave. W. Photo: Wayne Karl

“The provincial investment in transit is a golden opportunity for municipalities to create investment-ready communities,” says Molinaro. “In the past, municipalities have failed to do that work, leaving developers and builders to fight for appropriate intensification in those transit corridors. It doesn’t have to be this way; municipalities must modernize zoning and create transit-supported communities to fully maximize the provincial transit investment announced in today’s budget.”

It’s a good budget, but not quite deserving of two full thumbs up.

OHBA CEO Joe Vaccaro points out that certain tax credits need to be adjusted to reflect to rising home values – in particular, the 2009 HST New Housing Rebate.

“The current provincial threshold is $400,000, but with the cost escalation in new neighbour taxes and housing prices, the threshold should be adjusted every five years to support housing affordability for new-home buyers.”

Related reading:

Higher fees loom for Ontario new-home buyers

GTA lowrise home prices reach new heights

GTA new home sales off to strong start in 2015



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