New program seeks to speed up housing development amidst affordability crisis
LONDON, ON — The Ontario government is taking a decisive step towards addressing the province’s housing crunch by introducing the Building Faster Fund. This three-year, $1.2 billion initiative aims to financially reward municipalities that are proactive in achieving housing construction targets.
In a move to address the housing affordability crisis, the Building Faster Fund will allocate $400 million annually for the next three years to municipalities that are on track to fulfill the provincial housing targets by 2031. Municipalities attaining 80% of their yearly goals stand to benefit from this funding, calculated based on their contribution to the overall target of 1.5 million homes. Those that surpass their targets will enjoy bonus funds in addition to their designated allocation.
“By stepping up and offering tangible incentives, we’re placing the power and responsibility in the hands of municipalities to solve the affordability crisis,” stated Premier Doug Ford. “The choice is clear; we either address this issue head-on or remain bystanders. Our government is committing to building more homes.”
Funding Allocation and Usage
The funds procured from this program can be channeled towards housing-related infrastructure and other ancillary costs that promote community growth. The specifics of eligible costs will be hashed out in consultations between the provincial government, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Toronto’s city council, and the Housing Supply Action Plan Implementation Team. Moreover, a slice of the fund’s pie will be set aside for single and lower-tier municipalities that don’t have a set housing goal. This aims to recognize and cater to the distinct requirements of smaller, rural, and northern communities.
The City of Thunder Bay has an ambitious new housing goal assigned by the Ford Government. Thunder Bay’s target is i 2,200 new home starts by 2031.
Expansion of Strong Mayor Powers
To further facilitate housing construction, Ontario is enhancing the strong mayor powers for 21 additional municipalities. This change, effective from October 31, 2023, pertains to municipalities projected to house over 50,000 residents by 2031 and are aligned with the provincially set housing goals. This initiative is on top of the existing 28 municipalities with the aforementioned powers, a testament to their commitment to the housing objectives. Once the municipal housing pledge is received, these municipalities can tap into the Building Faster Fund.
The move by Ontario also puts some fast tracking into adding “Strong Mayor Powers” to more communities in Ontario. Thunder Bay is one of those communities likely to see more powers granted to the Mayor.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, emphasized the urgency, noting, “The clock is ticking, and we need more homes built across Ontario swiftly. By equipping our municipal partners with financial support and empowering them with strong mayor powers, we are setting the stage for a more vibrant, housing-rich Ontario.”
- Of the total provincial goal of 1.5 million homes, the 50 municipalities that have been designated housing targets represent an overwhelming 88%.
- A municipal housing pledge, which details the approaches and tools a municipality plans to deploy to hit their housing targets, is a prerequisite for accessing the Building Faster Fund.
- Municipalities falling short of 80% of their annual set goal won’t receive any funds. However, those on track or exceeding their targets can expect full allocation or even bonus funds.
- 2022 witnessed a surge in housing projects in Ontario, with the initiation of over 96,000 new homes – the second-highest since 1988. The province also embarked on approximately 15,000 new purpose-built rentals, setting a historical record.