Ontario’s new Bill23, otherwise known as the Build More Homes Faster Act has caught our attention. Many of the issues we have today regarding the City of Toronto’s timeline for project approvals will be addressed if this bill is received well and passes. Now, project development and planning approvals can take up to a year or longer to progress, slowing project development time and adding to the housing supply crisis.
The bill includes several additional changes, including reductions in costs associated with rental residential construction and changes to the methods for determining development charges, amongst others. The goal being that growth should pay for growth, shifting the financial burden of growth-related infrastructure onto existing taxpayers.
The government aims to override municipal zoning laws that will allow for the construction of up to three units per residential lot without further planning approvals or bylaw amendments. The goal being to build 1.5 million homes by 2031 to satisfy the housing shortage.
What needs to be addressed is the city needs to be properly resourced to eliminate the existing backlog. This bill will help to alleviate the “undue delay.”
What does this mean for us, the good and the bad?
Faster turn-around times for planning approvals
More rental residential projects
Multiple municipalities participating
Community members and groups would not be involved throughout community planning
The minister will be able to override municipal planning decisions
Conservation authorities influence would be diminished
Some natural and heritage sites may be at risk of development
Support and increased density around services and transit
Larger housing market
More job opportunity
More projects hitting the ground
Remove requirements for public meetings on certain matters
More freedom to build with lifted restrictions
More mixed-use developments
Reduction in construction costs and fees – cut down developer expenses
So far, the biggest drawback to the bill is the environmental implications at a time when climate change is at front of mind. This bill and associated policies remove and weaken environmental protections and diminish the role of land use planning. However, this can be seen positively as there may be better uses for land within proximity to the GTA providing creative opportunities to re-build the province and City’s foundation for housing.
When considering all perspectives on the issue, the bill is attempting to address the urgency of the housing shortage. If this can be done while carefully weighing the environmental impacts, we may have a win-win.