More Homes, More Choice: Ontario's Housing Supply Action Plan will cut red tape, build more housing and increase number of affordable homes
Later today, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing will introduce legislation that would, if passed, help people struggling to find affordable housing. It would, if passed, lay the groundwork needed to tackle Ontario's housing crisis and help to build more homes that meet the needs of people in every part of the province.
The comprehensive legislation is central to More Homes, More Choice: Ontario's Housing Supply Action Plan, which outlines a suite of legislative, regulatory and policy changes across multiple ministries. The proposed changes are intended to eliminate unnecessary steps, duplication and barriers to creating the housing Ontarians need. While cutting red tape, the government is holding firm to our commitment to maintain protections for health and safety, the environment, the Greenbelt, agricultural lands and our rich natural heritage.
The legislation includes the following proposed changes:
Conservation Authorities Act
Heavy rains and flooding threaten our communities and the people of Ontario need our conservation authorities to focus on programs and services that have the greatest impact. The proposed changes would ensure conservation authorities focus and deliver on their core mandate to manage flooding and hazard lands, protect sources of drinking water and ensure sustainable use of Ontario's natural resources and make the approval processes faster, more predictable and less costly, ultimately saving taxpayer dollars. The proposed legislative changes will be posted for public comment for 45 days on the Environmental Registry until May 20, 2019; and proposed regulatory changes on development permits have been posted until May 21, 2019.
Development Charges Act
The proposed changes would help increase housing options for the people of Ontario and make the upfront costs of building housing more predictable. This would encourage the development of new apartments and affordable housing, allowing development charges for rental housing and not-for-profit housing to be paid over a five-year period, instead of upfront.The proposed changes reflect feedback from public, municipal and development industry consultations over the past five months. These proposed changes will be posted on the Environmental Registry for 30 days, where the public, industry and municipalities will be able to comment on the proposed legislation. The government also intends to consult on proposed regulatory approaches to implement the proposed changes.
Every community has different education needs and it is time the government respected these differences by moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach to Education development charges. The Education Development Charges framework would be changed to help reduce the high cost of housing for the people of Ontario and ensure school boards have resources to support growing communities. The Ministry of Education will implement its changes later this fall. From December 2018 to January 2019, our government consulted with experts from the education, municipal and developer sectors on an updated framework and will continue to consult with the education sector throughout implementation.
Endangered Species Act
The proposed changes would make it easier to harmonize the Endangered Species Act with other like-legislation and would establish Canada's first Species at Risk Conservation Trust. The Trust would provide transparent rules on how to protect species at risk habitat. Changes would also support a modern ecosystem-wide approach to species protection that balances a healthy environment with a healthy economy and is effective and efficient. These proposed changes have been posted for public comment for 30 days on the Environmental Registry until May 18, 2019.
Environmental Assessment Act
We are proposing sensible, pragmatic solutions to modernize Ontario's environmental assessment process to make sure we're focusing on projects that pose actual, real risks to our environment and communities, while streamlining approval timelines and reducing duplication. By removing the lowest risk projects, such as snow plowing and de-icing operations, the proposed changes would speed up processing of all cases, including those of higher risk, like a transmission line. These proposed changes have been posted for public comment for 30 days on the Environmental Registry, until May 25, 2019.
Environmental Protection Act
We're delivering on our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan commitment to protect our land by proposing steps to properly manage local soil and brownfields, ensuring valuable resources don't go to waste, reducing construction costs associated with managing and transporting excess soil, reducing the risk of contaminants and revitalizing vacant land for housing. This would allow us to make sure the environment is properly protected by setting clear rules so good actors can get on with business and home building while also ensuring we have strong enforcement for those who violate the rules and hurt our environment. These proposed changes have been posted for public comment for 30 days on the Environmental Registry until May 31, 2019.
Local Planning Appeal Tribunal Act
Our government is committed to ensuring that services are delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible in the land use planning and appeal system to avoid unnecessary delays that slow down the construction of new homes. These proposed changes will allow the LPAT to hear appeals with fresh evidence for major land use planning decisions; increase powers to manage and decide cases to reduce delays; appoint additional adjudicators to address the backlog of cases that has tied up about 100,000 units in Toronto alone and to manage ongoing and future caseload; and move toward a system that is more self-sustaining and ensure that access to the LPAT is not so expensive to the point that cost would be an obstacle for those seeking to launch an appeal.
Occupational Health and Safety Act
The proposed change would give the province's Chief Prevention Officer the power to amend training and other requirements for Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) member certification where necessary to reduce administrative and cost burden to businesses, including small and medium-sized construction employers and other home builders. This includes extending the required certification refresher training to a five-year cycle instead of the current three-year cycle, helping businesses manage their operations and costs. These proposed changes to the Act complement the JHSC training program standard improvements (online learning, etc.) announced by the government in January 2019.
Ontario Heritage Act
The people of Ontario are rightly proud of our history and expect to see sensible rules that ensure our heritage is protected. It is possible to build a brighter future while protecting our proud past, we are working with property owners and communities to protect heritage properties while managing change and allowing for development that makes sense in specific areas to make sure that new homes can be built, and Ontario's most valuable sites are protected. In some cases, lack of clear direction and multiple appeal processes have led to inconsistencies and inefficiencies. The proposed changes would provide increased clarity and guidance to help municipalities more effectively protect important heritage resources in their communities and facilitate timely and transparent decision-making. These proposed changes will be posted on the Environmental Registry for 30 days, where the public, municipalities, heritage sector and developers are invited to provide comments and formal submissions until May 31.
We can make it easier to bring housing to market with proposed changes that would accelerate local planning decisions and put in place a more efficient appeals process. Changes to the Act would also allow homeowners to create an additional residential unit in their main residence and another unit in another building on the same property, such as above garages or in laneways. They would also let municipalities collect funds from developers to cover the capital costs of community benefits, like libraries and daycare facilities. Proposed changes to the Planning Act would help municipalities address local housing needs by allowing the use of inclusionary zoning around major transit station areas. The proposed changes reflect feedback from broad online public consultation in late 2018 and early 2019, as well as through sector-specific discussions with municipalities, developers, ratepayer groups and others. The government is consulting on the proposed legislation and intends to consult on proposed regulatory approaches to implementation.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Act
Our government is removing unnecessary financial burdens on Ontario businesses, while protecting workers and ensuring that everyone has a good paying job and a safe place to work. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board would continue to set a lower premium rate for construction job creators who do not perform construction work, which means they are exposed to lower risks of injury at work.
Cannabis Control Act
We must protect young people, keep communities and roads safe, and combat the illegal market and criminal activity. Police and law enforcement need tools to combat the illegal market and help keep communities safe. Proposed changes to the Cannabis Control Act, 2017, would remove the exemption that prohibits enforcement from temporarily closing illegal storefronts if the premises are being used as a residence, set minimum fines for individuals and landlords who commit offences related to illegal sale and distribution of cannabis; make it an offence to enter or attempt to enter a premise that has been barred by police or obstruct police officers or other persons enforcing the Act. The proposed amendments align with feedback the government has heard from its law enforcement partners to date. Ontario will continue to consult with key stakeholders including municipal partners on the proposed amendments.
Labour Relations Act
The concrete formwork provisions under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 would return to their status before the Plan for Care and Opportunity Act (Budget Measures), 2018 was enacted. This would help restore certainty and stability to Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional construction formwork bargaining across the province. The proposed changes reflect feedback from construction stakeholders on amendments to the Labour Relations Act, 1995. Relevant stakeholders were also consulted.
Please refer to the links below for further details after the legislation has been introduced and specific items are posted for comment by ministries.