Breaking Barriers in Building: Ontario’s Plan to Fast-Track Housing by 2031

In a decisive move to address the housing crisis, the Ontario government has unveiled the Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, 2024. This initiative is part of a broader strategy aimed at expediting housing development and meeting the ambitious target of constructing at least 1.5 million homes by 2031.

Legislative Measures and Impacts

The newly introduced legislation encompasses a series of measures designed to streamline the process for obtaining permits and licenses, thus reducing the regulatory burden on utility projects and other housing developments. By requiring ministries to develop business service standards, the legislation seeks to provide businesses with clearer expectations regarding the timeline for permit and license decisions.

Strategic Reduction in Red Tape

One of the cornerstone features of the legislation is its focus on cutting through the bureaucratic red tape that has long been a barrier to rapid housing development. Municipalities and homebuilders have voiced that regulatory hurdles significantly delay getting shovels in the ground. The proposed measures aim to simplify and expedite approvals, promoting quicker development of diverse housing types across the province.

Supportive Measures for Municipalities and Builders

If passed, the legislation will empower municipalities with the tools and funding necessary to build essential infrastructure and a broader range of housing options. Notable initiatives include:

  • Allowing more flexibility in residential developments, such as varying the number of parking spaces based on market demands near transit areas.
  • Implementing a “use it or lose it” approach for ready-to-go projects to prevent development stalling.
  • Streamlining the approval process for innovative housing projects like student housing and modular homes, and embracing new construction methods such as mass timber.

Additional Government Support

Beyond the legislative framework, the Ontario government is bolstering municipal capabilities through significant financial investments and programs:

  • The $1 billion Municipal Housing Infrastructure Program and the $825 million Housing-Enabling Water Systems Fund are set to facilitate critical infrastructure development.
  • The introduction of “strong mayor” powers is intended to accelerate local approval processes.
  • Various incentives, including the removal of provincial sales tax on purpose-built rentals, are aimed at boosting housing starts, which are already at record levels.

 

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