Province Providing New Housing Funding for Cities
Last year’s provincial choice to cut down on the fees gathered from developers for infrastructure costs related to growth paved the way for a forthcoming funding program designated for those municipalities that committed to new housing goals. Among them is Guelph, but at this stage, the effect of the declared funding on local finances and property taxpayers is yet to be determined.
Deputy CAO Jayne Holmes expressed on Wednesday, “It’s too soon to tell,” and clarified, “We don’t have the details yet.”
Earlier this week, the provincial administration announced a plan that offers eligibility to municipalities that vowed to back the collective housing aim of constructing 1.5 million new residences by 2031, to partake in a three-year funding initiative worth $1.2 billion, scheduled to kick off next year.
Some upfront comments on the $1.2 billion dollar “Building Housing Faster Fund” announced yesterday from @fordnation:— Mayor Cam Guthrie (@CamGuthrie) August 22, 2023
1. Thank you! $1.2 billion across Ontario for housing is nothing to scoff at. 👍🏻
2. The biggest question floating around the hallways of the @AMOPolicy… pic.twitter.com/C3EnfIqLI0
The amount of money to be received by each municipality will be influenced by the performance of local builders against the housing target; to qualify for the program, at least 80% of a municipality’s allocation needs to be fulfilled.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, asserted in a press release, “There is an urgent need to get more homes built quickly across Ontario,” and added, “By providing additional financial resources to our municipal partners as well as strong mayor powers to help speed up the approvals process, our government is acting decisively to tackle Ontario’s housing supply crisis and build the homes our residents need and deserve.”
A recent analysis disclosed that the City of Guelph faces a revenue deficit of approximately $232 million for growth-related infrastructure.
The government, along with the funding news, also laid out plans to bestow strong mayor powers, inclusive of the authority to override some council decisions, to 21 municipalities projected to hit 50,000 residents by 2031.
Earlier this summer, Guelph was accorded strong mayor powers. The city was not included in Monday’s announcement with other local municipalities.
Premier Doug Ford stated in a news release, “With these new measures, we’re supporting municipalities and giving them the tools they need to build more homes faster to tackle the affordability crisis that’s pricing too many people, especially young families and newcomers, out of the dream of home ownership,” and further said, “We have two choices: We can sit back and ignore the crisis, or we can build more homes. Our government is choosing to build homes.”
Previously in the year, Guelph’s city council vowed to do whatever is feasible within city limits to enable the development of 18,000 new housing units locally by 2031, in alignment with the provincial allocation given to Guelph. Alongside this commitment were calls to the provincial and federal governments, developers, and other stakeholders.
Guelph’s role in solving the housing crisis is limited, as “We don’t actually build houses,” Holmes pointed out, and emphasized, “There’s only so much we can do.”
Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner, who also leads the Ontario Green Party, described the funding announcement as lacking a ‘real solution’ for the housing crisis. “Tough talk and band aids won’t build more homes,” Shreiner stated, and added, “It’s time for this government to stop with the band aids and just get the job done.” He also reiterated his request for the province to broaden as-of-right zoning for specific housing types, back non-profit and co-op housing, and ongoing supportive housing, including comprehensive mental health and other services.