With last-minute changes to the inclusionary zoning regulations under the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, the Province is shirking its responsibilities by giving too much authority to municipalities and undermining the partnership balance required to deliver government-mandated affordable housing in Ontario. This is according to home building associations in the province.
“We need a partnership, and we just got more housing politics,” says Joe Vaccaro, CEO of Ontario Home Builders’ Association. “It is disappointing and frustrating to see the provincial government walk away from their own partnership model and leave the only real housing providers to negotiate with municipalities.
“Leaving housing providers to negotiate how to provide government-mandated affordable housing with municipalities will only make things more political and fuel more NIMBY-motivated actions and councilors. Adding housing supply and choice to communities across Ontario just got more political when what we need is government leadership and partnership to get more homes to the market,” adds Vaccaro.
The unfortunate changes to the proposed regulations leading up to a provincial election provide no policy framework to municipalities in implementing inclusionary zoning. Without the partnership framework, the key issues that determine whether a housing development is financially viable – the maximum number of affordable units, the affordability level of the units, and the necessary planning and financial tools to support the creating of these units – are left to municipalities to individually determine.
“Everyone knows that there is no such thing as free housing – this policy walks away from that fact and pretends that magically new affordable units will simply ‘appear,’” says Vaccaro. “Anyone who says we can provide these units without government support is willfully ignoring how this works in other jurisdictions. What they are really doing is telling homebuyers to cover the bill by adding it onto the price of their home.
“The solution to create government-mandated affordable housing is for all governments to start building with the billions they have collected through housing taxes,” says Vaccaro. “The provincial government collected more than $3 billion in land transfer taxes alone last year and municipal governments have land. Between the two governments, they have the money to build and they have the land to build; they should start building.”
OHBA and Toronto area builder association BILD say their members are experts in community planning, but the province has given municipalities an unchecked right to arbitrarily dismiss much-needed housing. This will exacerbate the housing supply problem in the GTA and ultimately lower our economic competitiveness as a region, making it more difficult to attract top companies such as Amazon and others to the GTA.
“The building industry makes the investment to build communities,” says David Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD. “The province’s last-minute changes put an end to partnership. As providers of all the housing in GTA, it is highly unlikely this policy is going to bring about change to the record high unaffordability and housing supply constraints that exist the GTA. At the very minimum, a provincial appeal mechanism should be included to mitigate the politics from the planning process,” he adds.
The building industry says it already contends with red tape and excessive bureaucracy that slows new development, impacting the supply of new homes and driving up prices. Under these new additional regulations, the province is not making housing a priority – it is adding more barriers while taking no responsibility.