Ontario pledges $1.2 billion for housing-enabling infrastructure
By Adam FreillConstruction
Province announces new Building Faster Fund and tools to help municipalities that meet or exceed 2031 housing targets.
Ontario is introducing a new Building Faster Fund that will provide up to $1.2 billion over three years to municipalities that meet or exceed pledged 2031 housing targets. Speaking at the 2023 Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in London, Premier Doug Ford said that the Ontario government is working in partnership with municipalities to get shovels in the ground on priority projects and connect more people to jobs and homes, while enhancing critical public services to better serve the province’s growing population.
The announced funding is expected to help municipalities pay for housing-enabling infrastructure and related costs that support community growth.
Ford also announced that Ontario will expand strong mayor powers to 21 additional municipalities, provided their heads of council commit to a municipal housing target as part of the province’s work to build at least 1.5 million homes by 2031. Strong mayor powers offer municipalities tools to cut red tape and speed the delivery of key shared municipal-provincial priorities such as housing, transit and infrastructure.
As part of the government’s work to support the construction of a range of housing types, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced that the province will be moving forward with a proposed definition of affordable housing for the purpose of development charge discounts and exemptions. This definition would take local incomes into account in determining which units should be eligible for development charge discounts and exemptions. This approach, he said, will reflect the ability of local households to pay for housing and recognizing the variety of housing markets across the province.
Clark also announced that the province will be naming regional facilitators in Durham, Halton, Niagara, Simcoe County, Waterloo and York no later than September 11, 2023. Regional facilitators are expected to make recommendations to the province on what locally supported governance models would best support Ontario’s fastest growing municipalities in moving forward on shared priorities to help municipalities meet their housing targets and build housing-enabling infrastructure.
Also announced were plans to host a Housing Forum in Toronto this November. The province will use the event to engage municipal partners and other key stakeholders on its Housing Supply Action Plan and discuss next steps to tackle the housing supply crisis.
“Municipalities are critical partners for our government, and we’re absolutely committed to making sure they have the tools they need to succeed,” said Clark. “We have made substantial progress in our work to get more homes built faster across Ontario and I look forward to working together to build the homes Ontarians need and deserve.”
“Since day one, our government has listened to and worked closely with its municipal partners to build the critical infrastructure our growing communities need to thrive,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “From building new highways, to public transit, we are getting shovels in the ground on much-needed projects right across the province and supporting our shared goal of a stronger Ontario today and in the future.”
“For Ontario to succeed and serve the public well, all governments need to work together to address difficult challenges,” said Colin Best, AMO president and councillor for the Town of Milton and Region of Halton. “We welcome the Ontario government’s support to build infrastructure, increase housing and to make housing more affordable for all.”
“We know first-hand that municipalities across the province must be equal players in helping us achieve our goal of building 1.5 million homes by 2031,” added Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Housing. “These new measures will help create more opportunities for municipalities and the province to work together, increase housing supply, and deliver for Ontarians.”