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Toronto rewarded for exceeding provincial housing target by 51 per cent

Don Wall
Toronto rewarded for exceeding provincial housing target by 51 per cent
YOUTUBE SCREENGRAB - Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow discussed how Toronto is making progress on housing during a Feb. 22 media conference.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced his government is allotting $114 million to the City of Toronto through the Building Faster Fund, a reward for the city exceeding its 2023 provincially dictated housing target.

Toronto broke ground on a total of 31,656 new housing units last year, exceeding its 2023 target by 51 per cent.

“This new fund is a three-year, $1.2-billion program that will reward municipalities for reaching or exceeding annual housing targets. And today, I’m pleased to announce that Toronto has knocked it out of the park,” said Ford.

Ford said the funds can be used by the city for infrastructure projects that enable more housing and community development.

“The city’s progress in building homes is just incredible,” said Ford. “While we’re pleased with this progress, and I know the mayor will agree with me, there’s always more work to be done.”

 Urgency of housing crisis met with urgency of actions

Ford and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow appeared with Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra for the presentation at Queen’s Park Feb. 22.

Chow outlined several steps in the permitting and approvals process where the city has improved upon previous benchmarks.

“Toronto is matching the urgency of the housing crisis with the urgency of our actions,” said Chow. “We’re getting housing back on track. The budget we passed last week invests heavily in delivering new homes.”

Barriers Toronto has addressed to speed up approval times have resulted in the reduction of 200 days from the typical process, said Chow.

The city has removed the need for preliminary reports and set earlier community consultation meetings; the time it takes staff to provide comments on application files has been reduced to 14 days “rather than months or sometimes years,” Chow said; and the city has created specialized teams to approve condo registrations sometimes as quickly as within an hour, or even 10 minutes, she said.

Toronto intends to build 65,000 rental homes 

Funding from the Building Faster Fund is provided to municipalities that have reached at least 80 per cent of their provincially assigned housing target for the year.

Chow said in response to a question that she did not have specific details on how the funding will be used but that the city is working with developers, both nonprofit and for profit, regularly to discuss different city programs, and she is meeting with the city’s planning team every two week to assess how approvals are being accelerated.

Toronto intends to build 65,000 rental homes in the coming years, she said.

“This $114 million is a welcome boost to all the efforts,” Chow said.

Ford said if all 444 of Ontario’s municipalities met their housing targets as Toronto did, Ontario would attain its goal of building 1.5 million new homes by 2031.

Calandra said the ministry will be announcing new measures to step up homebuilding in its fifth housing supply action plan next month.

One reporter asked Chow if the 31,656 new units was an “infinitely small drop in the bucket” compared to needs.

She outlined that there are 85,000 households waiting for affordable housing on the city’s list and 33,000 seniors are waiting for rent-geared-to-income units. Waiting lists are 10 to 20 years long, she said, noting the city’s recently approved budget will build thousands of units per year.

“There’s a crisis, so every drop counts,” said Chow.

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