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Ford’s New Cutting Red Tape to Build More Housing Act

Close-up of a person in a suit cutting red tape with scissors at Ford's ceremonial event or opening.

On April 10th, the Ontario Ford government introduced a comprehensive bill aimed at simplifying home construction and approval processes across the province.

The new Cutting Red Tape to Build More Housing Act would include provisions to decrease the required amount of parking for developers, implement expedited procedures for building student housing, and enforce a use-it-or-lose-it policy.

Critics suggest these actions are not robust enough, and have expressed concerns over the lack of specific details regarding the anticipated number of new homes resulting from the proposed planning changes, especially considering the government’s goal of constructing 1.5 million homes by 2031. 

Included Changes 

Key proposed changes aimed at enhancing housing development efficiency and affordability include:

  • An amendment to parking regulations intended to eliminate parking minimums for developments near transit stations. This change simply removes the requirements for parking spaces; developers can still provide parking spaces if desired. By removing this requirement, developers stand to save substantial costs, estimated up to $50 million for a 750-unit development, while also granting them flexibility in determining parking provisions based on market demand.
  • The introduction of a use-it-or-lose-it policy targets the issue of land banking, where developers withhold land for future construction in anticipation of more favourable market conditions. Under the new rules, developers failing to meet specific milestones could risk losing their approvals, and would have to restart the development process. Construction industry advocacy groups, however, argue delays are not from land banking, but are operating at a 33-year high, and are concerned about this proposed change.
  • Special exemptions for university-led housing projects, aiming to expedite the construction of student accommodation. By exempting publicly assisted universities from certain planning regulations, such as the Planning Act, the process of obtaining approvals and zoning for these projects could be significantly streamlined, potentially saving years of planning consultations and accelerating the provision of student housing. This proposed change comes as the government is also considering adding student housing to its definition of new homes, which some critics suggest may be an attempt to boost numbers to reach the 2031 housing target.

This announcement has come after another recent one on housing, where Premier Ford announced he would not be supporting a province-wide fourplex policy change to allow developers to build fourplexes on top of single detached housing.

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OREA Response

The Ontario Real Estate Board announced it was pleased that action was being taken to address housing supply issues, particularly through the advocacy for modular construction and other streamlined approval processes and key proposals, such as exploring new financing for critical infrastructure, eliminating parking minimums near transit, facilitating the construction of various types of housing units, and supporting mass timber structures and standardized designs for modular homes. However, OREA emphasized the need for additional measures and ensuring that changes to development charges do not increase costs for homebuyers. OREA also expressed disappointment that certain recommendations by the Housing Affordability Task Force, like upzoning along transit corridors, were not included in the bill

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