TORONTO — The Ontario government has announced a plan to exempt some provincial highway construction, transit and housing projects from the Hearings of Necessity process.
Provincial Hearings of Necessity occur approximately five to 10 times per year on average for provincial highway projects, explained a July 6 statement. Each hearing is said to add delays of up to five months for transit projects and up to 12 months for provincial highway projects.
“Through these proposed initiatives, we will start Ontario down the road to recovery by getting critical infrastructure projects built faster, creating jobs in communities across the province,” said Premier Doug Ford in the release.
As part of the plan, the government would also enter into new commercial agreements with partners to build transit-oriented communities. The measures would save taxpayers money, the release stated, by having the development industry make contributions to the cost of building transit.
The measures would also allow the province to more quickly undertake technical investigations and prepare construction sites.
“Instead of building stations in isolation, we will build fully integrated communities,” said Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA) Kinga Surma. “Transit-oriented communities will benefit the Greater Toronto Area by increasing ridership, reducing congestion, providing a mix of housing ― including affordable housing ― and providing critical local services and amenities like daycares and recreational spaces.”