Building homes while protecting the environment

By MPP Toby Barrett

At this year’s Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, laid out our ongoing work with municipalities to foster home ownership while protecting the environment.

Across the province, too many families worry that the dream of home ownership is out of reach. We know that the best way to bring prices down and provide more choice is to increase the supply of housing. That is why, in 2019, we introduced More Homes, More Choice – our housing supply action plan.

We promised to make it easier for municipalities, non-profits and private firms to build housing of all kinds. And that’s what we’re doing. 

We are streamlining development approvals and cutting red tape to get shovels in the ground faster. This is creating the jobs people need and building housing that people can afford.

Despite COVID-19, construction of new homes in 2020 was higher than in any year of the past decade. These are real results for real families. That year, Ontario completed the most rental housing since 1992 at 11,500.

These significant trends have continued this year. Despite the pandemic, supply is picking up but we need every single one of our partners to continue to help. We know more new homes will be needed to meet population growth and to ensure Ontarians can find a place to call home.

Integral to this was the creation of the Greater Golden Horseshoe planning area – an area that includes Haldimand County and the 1,200 residential acres assembled by the Ontario government at Townsend. This vacant residential acreage has the potential to take the building pressure off Caledonia and Port Dover.

We need everyone to support innovative housing in our communities, like laneway homes and modular or pre-fabricated housing.

By continuing to work together, I know we can give families more choices that they can afford and make the dream of home ownership a reality.

Our government has implemented a balanced approach to planning for growth. We know it is possible to provide the supply and mix of housing we need…while also protecting our environment. For example, a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO), used in partnership with municipalities, can expedite getting shovels in the ground on priority local projects.

To be clear, we are Growing the Greenbelt, to protect more farmland, forests, wetlands and watersheds. For today, tomorrow and always. Our area is not part of the Greenbelt but our area is known for other successful developments such as ALUS, Ducks Unlimited, Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Long Point Basin Land Trust and the Long Point World Biosphere.

In our consultations, we heard overwhelming support for adding Urban River Valleys and the Paris Galt Moraine. To demonstrate how we are delivering on a balanced approach to growth, I recently announced that for every acre where we have or where the government will issue an MZO, I will be adding two acres of protected and enhanced green space.

Ontario has a balanced plan… to protect our beautiful and vital greenspaces and our rich agricultural land and to speed up the delivery of projects that will help us support Ontario’s rapidly growing population.

This balanced and thoughtful strategy will ensure Ontario remains the best place in the world to live, work and prosper.

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk