Ontario can do more to help people get into homes

By MPP Toby Barrett

As someone who built my own home and have continued to work with the trades on various building projects, I welcomed a recent opportunity to address the Haldimand and Norfolk Home Builders Association.

I think everyone in the room agreed government can do more to help people get into homes. We need to help families, individuals and seniors find housing that fits their needs and budget.

I hear from people — my staff, constituents, people I meet on the road — who worry they will never be able to afford a home in Ontario. The problem is exacerbated by homeowners leaving the city, selling their property for upward of a million dollars and then entering our local market.

Homes are expensive to buy and to rent, and there aren’t enough of them, something we heard time and time again in the 2,000 submissions to a provincial government consultation on housing.  

Young people in their 20s and 30s are asking – what happened to the starter homes? And why can’t I find a place near work?

Families are asking – why aren’t there any apartments, condos, or townhouses I can afford with space for my kids.

Parents with older children are asking – when will my adult children afford to move out?

Seniors are asking – will I be able to downsize? Or maybe co-own a home with friends? We saw proposed legislation for such an arrangement with Durham MPP Lyndsay Park’s The Golden Girls Act 2019.

Homeowners are asking – can I turn my basement into an apartment to help pay my mortgage, or build a granny flat for my aging parent?

Answers to these questions lie with recently-announced changes. For example, Ontario is modernizing services related to the province’s Building Code to help speed up construction and to help people better understand and meet Building Code requirements, while maintaining the same high standards for public safety.

For too long, government and red tape have stood in the way of increasing housing supply. Hard-working families are paying the price.

The Ontario government’s plan to help build more homes that are affordable is titled More Homes, More Choice: Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan.

We will speed up the development approvals process, reduce paperwork that adds years to a construction project, while maintaining Ontario’s strong environmental protections.

We’ll make it easier to build different types of housing – from single-detached houses to townhomes to mid-rise rental apartments, second units and family-sized condos.

We will protect tenants and make it easier to build rental housing.

Finally, we will encourage innovative new housing designs and creative approaches to home-ownership.

Locally, we can offer 1,200 acres of residential land at Townsend, nearby to 4,500 acres of industrial land at Nanticoke. We have introduced A Place To Grow: The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, a plan that will include Haldimand County.

Home building creates jobs. The increase in construction activity resulting from our action plan will spur new investment and create thousands of private sector construction jobs – as we continue to support and streamline the skilled trades.

Government can’t solve the housing issues alone. But we can make it easier to build homes and encourage private sector development so that every person in Ontario can find a home that meets their needs and their budget.

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk.