VAUGHAN, ONT. — The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) has released a 15-point action plan outlining changes all three levels of government can make to tackle the housing supply and affordability crisis.
The plan, Housing Ontario’s People Everywhere (HOPE), recommends five actions for each level of government. RESCON consulted a wide array of stakeholders such as housing builders, developers, planning lawyers, housing advocates and groups, youth, former elected officials, Housing Affordability Task Force members, trade and financial sector organizations.
At the municipal level, RESCON wants major changes so planning and development divisions will have to expedite housing applications and approvals with mandated timelines. The plan also calls for previous increases in taxes, fees and levies, such as development charges, to be reversed or reduced; the development approvals process to be digitized; a prohibition on the use of heritage designations to stop development; and reasonable densification to be allowed, particularly in Toronto, states a release.
RESCON said although some actions have been taken provincially, such as the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, there is more work to be done. The province has pledged to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. The plan recommends the province mandates major municipalities have an independent planning and development ombudsman to ensure applications are not delayed.
The blueprint also tackles the issue of how to speed-up cases at the Ontario Land Tribunal and recommends municipalities be required to permit maximum reasonable residential development on sites. Furthermore, municipalities should be required to put an end to exclusionary zoning policies that prohibit forms of reasonable light densification, states the release.
Federally, RESCON says it wants an exemption or rebate on HST collected on construction of residential buildings, more tax incentive programs and an immigration system that permits more foreign-trained skilled workers to come to Ontario.
“It’s not an over-statement to describe our current situation as a full-blown housing crisis,” said RESCON president Richard Lyall in a statement. “Unprecedented situations like the one we now find ourselves in require extraordinary solutions. RESCON’s action plan has specific and effective solutions that can be implemented quickly.”