Housing is a broken system we now need to fix

By MPP Toby Barrett

Bill 108 is legislation that supports Ontario’s comprehensive Housing Supply Action Plan. The bill, titled More Homes, More Choice, is designed to transform Ontario’s housing development systema broken system that we now need to fix.

We need to turn things around. We need to bring in more housing, more quickly, to our province. Our proposed changes to the Planning Act and the Development Charges Act, along with a suite of legislative policy and regulatory changes will support a robust effort to address development challenges in Ontario.

The plan to add 10,000 housing starts each year will grow real GDP by an estimated 0.3 per cent and create more than 15,000 new jobs over three years.

The Ontario government also owns hundreds of unused vacant and surplus properties across the province. We are committed to selling these lands to build not only homes but also long-term care facilities and affordable housing. 

As people will know locally, Townsend is home to what was supposed to be a planned community for over 100,000 people. Assembled 50 years ago, it was originally 14,000 acres with most now sold back to farmers. Today, 1,400 acres of Ontario government residential land is available in what is designated as the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region. 

Every region of our province has its very own unique challenges. In the north, construction is expensive and the building season is short, but the planning approvals process does not consider those. Some municipalities, especially in northern and rural Ontario, face excessive red tape and administrative burdens and that needs to change.

I built my house on our farm 35 years ago.  The day we started excavating, I drove over to Townsend—to the Haldimand-Norfolk regional government office—to get all my permits. All it took was a few hundred dollars and two hours of my time. Done.

Today, red tape and paperwork can add years to a construction project.  Layers of permits, government approvals and charges by municipalities add to the cost of building new homes.

Late last year, our government launched a housing supply consultation. We received over 2,000 submissions; over 85 per cent of those were from the general public. We heard about new and innovative ways to overcome the many, many barriers there are to housing. Through these public consultations, we heard a range of ideas that ultimately informed our Housing Supply Action Plan.

We also learned what was important to those who are actually involved in the building of new homes.  Municipalities, home builders and housing industry experts all shared their perspectives.

The broken housing development system doesn’t work for people waiting for new homes, it doesn’t work for municipalities hoping to strengthen their communities, it doesn’t work for employers that need housing to attract workers and it certainly doesn’t work for those trying to put shovels in the ground.

The More Homes, More Choice Act is about unlocking the construction of all kinds of housing, from ownership to rental housing, whether built by private homebuilders or non-profits. It is an action plan that will help give people more choice and help bring costs down.

Our goal is to help spur on the construction of new homes, give people more housing choices, reduce housing costs, and help taxpayers keep more of their hard-earned dollars.

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk