At a recent campaign stop in London, Ont., Premier Doug Ford took to the podium and reiterated his commitment to cut permit red tape and get 1.5 million much-needed new homes built over the next decade.
Appropriately, the backdrop for the event was a residential construction site that took 12 years to get a permit.
I had the pleasure of introducing the premier and, on behalf of the board of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON), endorsed him and the Ontario PCs for re-election in 2022.
RESCON is backing the PCs because, for the last four years, they have been walking the talk and taken aim at the housing crisis.
All three major parties are now promising to build 1.5 million homes over the next decade, but we feel the Ontario PCs are the most likely to get the job done. They have acknowledged the problem and committed to revising their plan to accomplish that goal every year for the next four years.
We are not playing partisan politics here. When the PCs first got elected, they listened to our concerns. Right off the bat, they recognized there was a housing supply problem and took action to address the crisis via the More Homes, More Choice Act.
They have continued to work on the problem and introduced the More Homes for Everyone Act which was another step forward. The legislation proposes measures to streamline the municipal approval processes and require municipalities to refund application fees if a decision isn’t made within legislated timelines.
The government is also taking steps to help municipalities cut red tape and transition towards a digital standard for planning and development applications. A $45-million Streamline Development Approval Fund will help municipalities digitize their services, reduce costs for developers and governments, and accelerate the production of new housing. It presently takes far too long to get a project approved.
The PCs are moving the needle and making things happen on the housing front. In some instances, they have used MZOs to get stalled projects underway. MZOs are the product of a dysfunctional system, however, they are sometimes a necessary Band-Aid to address systemic failures to get a development moving. Often, the request for an MZO is made by individual municipalities.
Housing is a need, not a want and adequate supply is important to the economic health of Ontario. The Ontario PCs, and in particular Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark, have taken a leadership role in working towards a solution that will help. A Housing Affordability Task Force appointed by the minister, for example, came up with 55 sweeping recommendations to boost housing stock.
Meanwhile, Labour, Training and Skills Development Minister Monte McNaughton has cleared a path to increase the number of people taking up the trades by investing millions in training programs and initiatives as well as putting another $15.1 million over three years in the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program.
We are falling drastically short of the number of new homes needed to keep up with our anticipated population growth of more than 2.27 million people over the next decade. The dream of home ownership or high-quality rental is now out of the reach of many and has got to the point where our youngest and brightest must leave our cities in order to find an affordable place to live.
We are in a housing crisis and must significantly boost supply, get more people to take up the tools, and work towards a seamless development application process. From the comments we have heard and the actions that have been taken, the Ontario PCs are in the best position to deliver.
Richard Lyall is president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). He has represented the building industry in Ontario since 1991. Contact him at [email protected].