TORONTO — The Government of Ontario is responding to feedback from its municipal partners and is taking steps to clarify and enhance collaborative efforts to build at least 1.5 million homes across the province by 2031, protect frontline services, and keep costs down for taxpayers.
“Since becoming the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, I have been focused on working constructively with municipalities to reach our shared goal of building at least 1.5 million new homes by 2031,” said Paul Calandra, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “I have heard from mayors across the province about the significant positive impact that several recent legislative changes will have on their ability to meet their housing targets and chip in on meeting our shared province-wide goal. I am acting now to provide the certainty and stability they require so we can get more shovels in the ground quickly.”
In response to municipal and community feedback, the Government of Ontario is:
- Providing immediate clarity to residents and taxpayers of Peel, as well as the police, paramedics, and frontline workers who serve them, with legislation that would, if passed, mean the region will not be dissolved and these essential shared services and jobs of those who deliver them are secure, and that would recalibrate the mandate of the transition board to focus on options to enhance the self-determination of local governments to support building more homes faster and improve local service delivery;
- Consulting on proposed revocations, amendments and monitoring of existing minister’s zoning orders as part of a new “use it or lose it” approach to support improved municipal planning and resourcing while holding builders to account;
- Providing clarity about the application of development-related charge exemptions for attainable housing to support improved municipal budgetary planning; and
- Consulting on development-related charges and fee refund frameworks to support municipalities with sustainably building more homes faster.
Updating legislation to improve service delivery in Peel Region
The government will introduce legislation in the new year that, if passed, would recalibrate the mandate of the Peel Region Transition Board to focus on making local government in Peel Region more efficient and responsive to the needs of taxpayers, including by improving regional services like policing, paramedics and public health, instead of dissolution.
“While we originally thought that the best way to achieve our goals of better services and lower taxes was through dissolution, we’ve since heard loud and clear from municipal leaders and stakeholders that full dissolution would lead to significant tax hikes and disruption to critical services the people of Peel Region depend on. This is something our government will never support,” said Minister Calandra. “While some might be okay with raising taxes on hard-working people, families, and businesses, we aren’t. This new mandate of the board will deliver improvements to local services like police, paramedics and public health while always respecting taxpayers.”
Over the last six months, the Peel Transition Board has worked closely and diligently with municipal governments and service agencies in Peel Region to support high-quality services for taxpayers while improving the efficiency of local governments as they prepare for future growth, including by making good on their municipal housing pledges. The new, more focused mandate also asks the board to bring forward recommendations on optimizing the delivery of services that support the commitment to build more homes, including land-use planning, servicing, roads and waste management.
These services are key to building homes and housing-enabling infrastructure. Removing the duplicative layer of regional bureaucracy from the administration of these services will get shovels in the ground faster so more people in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon can find a home that meets their needs. This balanced approach will provide certainty and stability for taxpayers and municipal employees in Peel Region while continuing the province’s efforts to provide the best value for taxpayers.
Minister’s Zoning Orders: zoning order amendments, revocations and enhanced monitoring
In September 2023, the province announced a review of minister’s zoning orders to increase transparency and support government priorities. The review on zoning orders approved since 2018 considered whether there has been substantial progress on:
- Additional downstream approvals needed for project development and implementation; and
- Addressing water and wastewater servicing within a reasonable timeframe.
As part of the review, consideration was given to whether substantial progress was made on all of the lands, or just part of the lands approved under the zoning order.
Some zoning orders were considered out of scope for the review. These zoning orders were:
- Requested by ministries within the Government of Ontario to deliver on provincial priorities, such as transit-oriented communities, long-term care facilities, hospitals or more;
- Made to fulfill contractual obligations; and
- Made since December 1, 2022, because in these instances, proponents and municipalities may not have had time to demonstrate significant progress.
“I have always been clear that if we do not see the results we expect from a zoning order, our government will not hesitate to amend or revoke it,” said Minister Calandra. “This approach sends a clear message that when our government issues a minister’s zoning order to support priorities such as housing or long-term care, we expect to see results.”
Non-housing related zoning orders for potential revocation or amendment
The zoning orders listed below are currently being consulted on for proposed amendment or revocation. Interested parties are encouraged to submit their feedback before Saturday, January 27, 2024. Details about each zoning order consultation can be found on the Environmental Registry of Ontario bulletin.
Consulting on a go-forward framework
The province will launch consultations on a go-forward framework for how requests for zoning orders will be received and considered. The intention is to develop a new process that is more open and transparent while maintaining this important tool to cut through red tape to get shovels in the ground sooner.
The province is in receipt of three zoning order requests that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing intends to approve ahead of these consultations:
- A request received from the Minister of Health related to the protection of air flight paths of Ornge emergency helicopters, patients, and crews that need to land at hospitals in downtown Toronto.
- A request received from the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade that allows Ontario to create jobs and protect taxpayers by issuing downstream permits to meet project timelines associated with the new battery plant mega-site investment in St. Thomas.
- A request endorsed by Mayor Olivia Chow intended to support a new location for a regionally significant Halal grocery store in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood of Toronto.
The province will not consider or issue any other zoning order requests until the completion of consultations on the go-forward framework.
New attainable housing program
The government is developing an attainable housing program that will make homeownership a reality for more Ontario families. Following Ontario’s first ever Housing Forum on November 27, the province is using insights and ideas from municipalities and partners in the housing sector to define attainable housing and to inform a modular housing framework that will be used, in part, to build attainable homes. These homes will be built on demonstration sites located on surplus government lands using innovative construction techniques, such as modular manufacturing.
In the More Homes Built Faster Act, the government’s third Housing Supply Action Plan, the province introduced provisions to allow select attainable units to be exempt from municipal fees under the Development Charges Act to support the development of attainable homes. The government’s definition of attainable homes will apply only to modular home demonstration sites, including surplus provincial lands and surplus lands made available by municipalities, in order to incentivize early development of modular, attainable homes.
The province will be consulting with key stakeholders over the coming months on this definition of attainable.
Development-related charges and fee refund frameworks
As discussions between the government and its partners continue, the province is terminating the ongoing audits of municipal finances for the City of Toronto, Peel Region, Mississauga, Caledon, Brampton and Newmarket. Instead, the province will engage in consultations with its municipal partners on the impacts of the More Homes Built Faster Act and municipalities’ ability to fund growth-related infrastructure that will support the construction of more homes, including a review of the five-year phase-in of development charge increases and fee refund framework.
“Over the past few months, our government has introduced significant investments in municipalities to support housing-enabling infrastructure, including the $1.2 billion Building Faster Fund and the $200 million Housing-Enabling Water Systems Fund, both of which are on top of the $400 million Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund,” said Minister Calandra. “Looking ahead, we’ll continue to work with our municipal partners to ensure that they have the tools and revenue streams needed to get shovels in the ground. As we do, we need the federal government to be a willing and able partner in supporting our province’s growth.”
The goal of the consultations will be to inform potential legislative changes for the government’s upcoming Housing Supply Action Plan that would enhance municipalities’ ability to invest in housing-enabling infrastructure (water, wastewater, local roads, etc).
The following potential changes will be consulted on for inclusion in upcoming legislation:
- The requirement to phase-in development charge rates over five years for development charge by-laws passed as of January 1, 2022;
- The removal of studies as an eligible capital cost for development charges; and
- The planning application fee refund framework introduced through the More Homes For Everyone Act.
Development charge exemptions and reductions for non-profit, affordable and purpose-built rental homes will remain unchanged.