Ontario’s Provincial government has proposed the new More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 to address the shortage of housing through measures that would make development of certain projects easier and more affordable. If passed in its current form, the proposed Act would amend various pieces of development-related legislation including the Planning Act, Development Charges Act, and New Home Construction Licensing Act, and would create the Supporting Growth and Housing in York and Durham Regions Act. The proposed legislation aims to create 1.5 million new homes over a 10-year period. The new supply of housing planned includes condominiums, stacked townhouses and secondary suites.
This proposed overhaul of the planning scheme is much overdue and welcomed by many stakeholders.
The proposed legislation makes around 50 changes amongst various goals, including:
Building More Homes Near Transit
- Creating sustainable communities near major transit stations, to make it easier for individuals who rely on public transit to get to work or school.
- Proposed changes to the Planning Act would require municipalities to update their zoning by-laws to meet minimum density targets near major transit stations.
- Increasing the number of residential units allowed on most residential lots without requiring a by-law amendment. This would allow up to three residential units on one lot, such as the addition of a basement apartment and/or garden house to an existing home.
- Exempting these new units from development charges and parkland dedication fees, to make them more economically feasible.
Focus on Largest Municipalities
- Some of the proposed changes specifically target the City of Toronto, where there is a large demand for more housing. A significant change is proposed for the City of Toronto Act which would give the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing the power to make regulations that impose limits and conditions on the powers of the City to prohibit and regulate the demolition and conversion of residential rental units.
- The proposed legislation would also create specific policies to expedite the York Region sewage works project and the Lake Simcoe phosphorus reduction project, including eliminating hearings of necessity for expropriated land and adding the ability for the municipality to require utility companies to take up, remove, or change the location of utility infrastructure. The projects are required to accommodate the rapid population growth in the area.
- The Ontario government is also seeking to assign housing targets to 29 of the largest municipalities to address the gap in the housing supply and will seek pledges from those municipalities with details regarding how they will meet these targets.
Making Homeownership More Attainable
- Increasing the Non-Resident Speculation Tax rate from 20% to 25%, with the goal of deterring non-resident investors from purchasing homes.
- Implementing a local vacant home tax to encourage owners to rent or sell unoccupied homes.
- Increasing protections for buyers of pre-construction homes by increasing the penalties for builders who contravene the New Home Construction Licensing Act.
Reducing Construction Costs
- Exempting affordable housing, non-profit housing and inclusionary zoning units from development charges, parkland dedication fees and community benefits charges.
- Reducing parkland requirements and fees for higher density residential developments, such as condominiums.
Streamlining the Ontario Land Tribunal Process
- Prioritizing cases that will create the most housing.
- Limiting third-party appeals for official plan and zoning by-law amendments, minor variances, and consents.
- Establishing timelines for completion of specific stages of a case.
- Providing clear authority for the Tribunal to award costs in favour of the successful party, as a method of encouraging settlements outside of the Tribunal process.
The proposed legislation has been referred to a Standing Committee, where revisions may be recommended, and is expected to receive Royal Assent before the end of the year.
The housing shortage is a significant problem in Ontario, making housing increasingly unaffordable for individuals looking to buy or rent a home. Unified LLP is generally supportive of steps to address these issues. It will be interesting to see what changes are made to the proposed legislation, if any, before it is passed and whether it will have the desired impact on development.
Please contact Michael Paiva at 416.800.1733 or michael@unifiedLLP.com for more information or if you need assistance with a Municipal Law matter.