As part of its bid to see 1.5 million news homes built by 2031, the province is providing municipalities with a share of $1.2 billion if they reach the targets the Ford government has set for them.
The Building Homes Faster Fund was announced last week by Premier Doug Ford at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario meeting in London. The premier also announced an extension of so-called strong mayor powers, which gives mayors of certain municipalities veto powers if a bylaw conflicts with provincial priorities, to 21 new municipalities if they commit to the provincial plan in writing by October 15.
“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,” Ford said.
The funds will be provided over a three-year period starting in 2024.
In order to receive their share of the fund, each municipality will need to commit in writing to reach their provincially set housing target and be on track to achieve at least 80 per cent of that goal. The amount given to each municipality will be determined by how much of the provincial target they are committed to building and how much housing they have built compared to their own annual targets. This fund will provide double the funding for each percentage point a municipality goes over their provincial target, meaning that meeting their goal by 105 per cent would provide a municipality with an extra 10 per cent of funding.
The three cities in Waterloo Region have provincially set targets of 19,000 homes in Cambridge, 35,000 in Kitchener and 16,000 in Waterloo. While the regional townships do not have housing targets, 10 per cent of the fund has been reserved for small, rural and northern communities that do not yet have set targets.
According to Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris this is related to assessment of upper-tier municipalities and the facilitator for Waterloo Region that is expected to be named sometime in September. It’s also spurred by the province reducing development charges for purpose-built rental housing.
“What we’re trying to do is figure out ‘OK, municipalities, if you have a reduction in your development charges, what is that going to look like for you?’ I’ve had several conversations with Mayor [Sandy] Shantz and the township CAO David Brenneman and we’ve been talking about what are you kind of forecasting as budgetary shortfalls due to development charges either being waived for not-for-profit housing or community-style housing, or development charge reductions for purpose-built rental,” Harris said of conversations with Woolwich officials.
Instead of providing the money up front, the audit will ensure the funding announced last week will be used to make up that shortfall and for things that the community members want to see happen, Harris said.
“We want to make sure that if we’re putting extra provincial dollars in that it’s needed that it’s going to go towards programs and infrastructure that communities truly require,” he added.