The Ontario government is eyeing legislation that would support the province’s new Housing Supply Action Plan, More Homes Built Faster, and the goal of building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, introduced legislation for the next phase of the action plan on Tuesday, October 25.

Municipalities have had “as-of-right residential tools” since 2019, and the provincial government is looking to enhance those tools. To do so, it has proposed adding a new province-wide standard threshold for what’s allowed to be built by strengthening the additional residential unit framework. Pending passage of the change, up to three residential units would be permitted “as of right” – or without needing a by-law amendment – on most land zoned for one home in residential areas without needing a municipal by-law amendment. An example provided could consist of a residence with a basement apartment and a garden house, which “creates a broader mix of rental housing and could help homeowners to pay their mortgage or accommodate extended family.”

The change, the Ontario website explains, would shorten approval times and allow construction to begin sooner.

The proposed changes also would allow “complete, sustainable communities” to be established closer to “historic investments in province wide transit expansion.” The province website also notes that, “Once the key development policies for major transit stations are approved, municipalities would be required to update their zoning by-laws within one year to meet minimum density targets.”

Province leaders aren’t limiting their push for affordable housing to places and timelines, they’re also encouraging the construction of more affordable and purpose-built rental housing by proposing regulatory changes. Those changes would provide certainty regarding inclusionary zoning rules that include a maximum affordability period of 25 years, a cap on the number of inclusionary zoning units and a uniform approach for setting the rent or price of an affordable unit in an inclusionary zone. They’ve also announced, via the provincial website, that they will be “launching consultations” to try and establish “greater standardization” across municipal bylaws, which are currently varied and may include requirements that limit access to housing or pose as barriers to creating housing supply.

Ontario also is proposing changes to the Planning Act, the Development Charges Act and the Conservation Authorities Act in an attempt to “freeze, reduce, and exempt fees” that otherwise hamper or delay new home construction. The province is “undertaking a review of all other fees levied by provincial ministries, boards, agencies, and commissions to determine what impact they may have on the cost of housing with the intent of further reducing, if not eliminating these fees altogether.”

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