Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday December 1, 2021
Why Doug Ford is pushing Ontario’s cities to speed up housing construction
Premier Doug Ford and his government want Ontario municipalities to approve new home construction projects more quickly, claiming that delays in approvals are driving up the cost of housing.
Building more homes faster is the central topic of the housing summit that Ford will hold next month with the mayors of Ontario’s 29 biggest cities and the chairs of urban regional municipalities.
In recent weeks, Ford has repeatedly cited the pace of municipal construction approvals as a barrier to making housing more affordable.
The price of buying a home is soaring pretty much everywhere in Ontario, not just the Toronto and Ottawa areas. What’s far from clear is how much delays in municipal permit approvals contribute to those skyrocketing home prices.
“We’ve got to start cutting the permit times down big time and start getting houses built as quickly as possible,” Ford said during a news conference in Orillia in response to a question about unscrupulous landlords.
The province will soon start “scoring” cities and towns on how quickly it takes to issue permits, Ford said.
“Believe it or not, folks, sometimes when [developers] apply for a permit, it can take four to six years. Where in North America does it take four to six years?”.
Ford said the vast majority of cities in Ontario are slow to approve projects. “It’s just like going on a carousel, they loop you around, loop you around, and guess who’s paying? The people are paying, the developer’s not paying.”
Ford’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, is also blaming municipal bottlenecks for pushing up the price of homes.
“We know that there are delays, particularly at the municipal level, caused by duplication and red tape that are obstructing new homes from being built, which is shutting out Ontarians and their families from realizing their dream of home ownership,” Clark said to a virtual meeting of the Empire Club of Canada on Thursday.
“It takes too long to get shovels in the ground as part of the development process,” Clark said during the question and answer session following his speech.
The Ford government has focused on boosting the supply of new homes as its fundamental solution to housing affordability. To achieve that goal, the government is trying to pave the way for new construction to happen more quickly. (CBC)