On 25 October 2022, the Ontario government introduced Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act in support of the objectives outlined in Ontario’s new Housing Supply Action Plan. Ontario’s Housing Plan includes five planks aimed at increasing urban expansions and affordability:
- building more homes (by addressing the missing middle, building near transit, and setting municipal housing targets);
- reducing development costs (through reducing fees and taxes);
- streamlining development approvals (via empowering municipalities, improving the effectiveness of the Ontario Land Tribunal, and updating heritage policies);
- helping home buyers and renters (creating a new attainable housing program, addressing vacant homes and protecting homebuyers from unethical developers); and
- improving planning processes (by conducting a planning policy review, identifying more land for housing, and building more schools around urban growth areas).
Bill 23 amended various pieces of legislation, including the Conservation Authorities Act, the Ontario Heritage Act, the Ontario Land Tribunal Act, and the Planning Act, to enable progress on the five planks noted above.
Housing affordability in Ontario – most notably within the electoral battleground of the GTA – has consistently been a concern on the minds of voters over the past number of years.
Doug Ford’s Ontario PCs campaigned on an ambitious promise to build 1.5 million new homes in the province of Ontario over the next 10 years in order to address housing affordability challenges. Bill 23 is the most recent bundle of legislation designed to boost housing supply.
The Liberals, NDP, and Greens all campaigned on similar pledges to boost housing supply. However, they have been critical of the proposed legislation by the Ford Government, arguing it will enrich home builders and harm protected lands.
The legislation has also received criticism from some municipal leaders arguing it will add to fiscal challenges municipalities are facing through the changes to development charges.
WHAT THE GOVERNMENT IS SAYING?
The Ontario government maintains that Bill 23 is “part of a long-term strategy to help build more homes and make life more affordable for Ontario families.” And that, in reducing unnecessary barriers to development, Bill 23 puts Ontario on course to build 1.5 million new homes in the next 10 years.
“Ontario is a prosperous and growing province – the best place in the world to call home. Yet for too many Ontarians, finding the right home is all too challenging.,. Achieving our goal will not be easy. A housing crisis many decades in the making cannot be fixed overnight. But More Homes, Built Faster is part of a strong foundation on which 1.5 million homes can be built over the next 10 years – in partnership with municipalities, the private sector, not-for-profits and the federal government.” – Hon. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
WHAT EXPERTS ARE SAYING?
“For too long, we have endured a housing supply and affordability crisis in Ontario, centered on the GTA. Bill 23, together with previous legislation, provides the solutions we need to build more homes, reduce the cost of housing and create a brighter future for everyone who lives here.” – David Wilkes, President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD)
“The More Homes Built Faster Act will reduce bottlenecks, streamline development approvals and increase the pace of residential construction across Ontario…Specific reforms in the plan, such as changes to development charges, allowing more homes to be built near transit, and updating heritage conservation rules will help move the needle on housing.” – Richard Lyall, President of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON)
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING?
Ontario’s official NDP opposition are vehemently opposed to this legislation, arguing that: “Bill 23 will make Ford’s developer buddies even richer, while hurting Ontarians by making the housing crisis even worse.” They hold that Bill 23 jeopardizes the environment, and argue that the real solutions to housing affordability are: (1) increasing the rental housing supply; (2) restoring rent control on all rental units; and (3) investing in “non-market” housing.
The Ontario Liberal Party is also opposed to Bill 23, maintaining that: “while Bill 23 promises to build more homes, major flaws prevent the Ontario Liberal Caucus from supporting the legislation in its current form.” The Liberals refuse to support the changes enacted under Bill 23 short of additional measures to ensure that: development charge savings are passed on to consumers, financial compensation is provided to municipalities, green housing is made a priority, community diversity requirements are introduced, and adequate access to, and protection of, local public hearings is guaranteed.
Following Bill 23’s Royal Assent on 28 November 2022, regulatory consultations were held on the various regulatory amendments made. Various provisions of this bill amend requirements relating to dispute hearings, heritage designation criteria, and conservation authorities, in enabling a more central role for the provincial and municipal governments in the planning process. With its consultations on Bill 23 completed, the Ontario government will now be focused on implementation.
JB+A Senior Management Team: