January 19, 2022 – Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) met with the Premier and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, at a joint provincial-municipal Housing Affordability Summit today. Other attendees included the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario (MARCO).
“Ontario is in the midst of a housing crisis, and today’s Housing Affordability Summit was an opportunity to identify barriers to increasing a supply of homes that meet the needs of residents across the province,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman, Mayor of Barrie, and Chair of OBCM.
OBCM raised several items including the need for a collaborative “all-government approach” to solving the housing supply and affordability challenge emerged as the focus of the Summit, and there was widespread agreement that no one level of government can solve the problem on its own.
Housing prices and the cost of renting have both risen so quickly that for significant progress to be made, federal and provincial governments must thoroughly explore all options and use economic levers, like tax, spending and regulatory powers, to make housing more affordable. Municipal processes and policies can help, but we need bolder action if the problem is to be solved.
While housing starts are up, which shows progress on creating more supply is being made, if prices and rents continue to rise, Ontarians will not be any further ahead. New supply needs to be affordable; this means focusing on purpose built rental apartments and addressing the cost pressures driving prices higher.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, which is why OBCM is pleased the province committed to continuing the conversation. To better understand the issues contributing to rising housing costs and lack of supply, the province, and municipalities both agreed we need to go back and review parts of the process that could be improved such as approval timelines, streamlining processes and data collection.
“As Premier Ford said, each of us needs to look in our own back yard, to find what we can do better.” Lehman added. “There’s already been real progress in reducing barriers to new construction, but more importantly, there is consensus that we must all be willing and able to do more.”
OBCM also welcomes today’s announcement of a new Streamline Development Approvals Fund. This is an immediate step to support municipalities as they continue to improve their housing approval process.
While housing affordability was the main topic of today’s Summit, we cannot forget that the housing crisis is felt disproportionately by lower income Ontarians and is making homelessness worse.
We owe it to those in our communities who need help to make much larger investments in social and supportive housing, this investment must come from the Government of Canada and Province of Ontario.
Ontario’s Big City Mayors would like to thank the Premier and Minister for calling this Summit and for their commitment to continue to work together on solutions to this urgent and complex matter.