Saturday, May 18, 2024

Ford launches fund to reward municipalities on housing targets, expands strong mayor powers to 21 more regions

The Doug Ford government is launching the Building Faster Fund, a new three-year, $1.2 billion program that provides significant new funding based on performance against provincial housing targets. Strong mayor powers are also being expanded to 21 more municipalities projected to have populations of 50,000 or larger by 2031 that commit to meeting their provincial targets.

“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,” said Premier Doug Ford. “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.”

The Building Faster Fund will provide $400 million in new annual funding for three years to municipalities that are on target to meet provincial housing targets by 2031. Municipalities that reach 80 per cent of their annual target each year will become eligible for funding based on their share of the overall goal of 1.5 million homes. Municipalities that exceed their target will receive a bonus on top of their allocation.

Funding from the Building Faster Fund can be directed toward housing-enabling infrastructure and other related costs that support community growth. Eligible expenses will be determined following consultations between the province, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the City of Toronto and the Housing Supply Action Plan Implementation Team. A portion of the overall funding will also be allocated to single and lower tier municipalities that have not been assigned a housing target, including small, rural and northern communities, in order to address their unique needs, following municipal consultations.

Ontario is also expanding strong mayor powers to 21 more municipalities that are projected to have populations of 50,000 by 2031 and whose heads of council are committed to a provincially assigned housing target. The expansion of strong mayor powers will take effect on October 31. This expansion is in addition to the 28 municipalities that already have strong mayor powers, having committed to targets through municipal housing pledges. Once a housing pledge is received from the head of council, these municipalities will also become eligible for and will have access to the Building Faster Fund.

“There is an urgent need to get more homes built quickly across Ontario,” said Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark. “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.”

The 29 municipalities assigned housing targets in 2022 and the 21 municipalities with newly assigned housing targets represent more than 88 per cent of the provincial target of 1.5 million homes.

Municipal housing pledges identify the tools and strategies that municipalities intend to use to achieve their housing targets as part of the ongoing work to increase housing supply. Municipalities with housing targets must submit a pledge to access the Building Faster Fund.

An eligible municipality would receive no funding if it is below 80 per cent of its annual assigned target. However, it would receive up to 100 per cent of allocated funding if it is on track to meet its target and could receive potential bonus funding if it exceeds that.

According to provincial data Ontario saw the second-highest number of housing starts since 1988, with just over 96,000 new homes. Ontario also broke ground on nearly 15,000 new purpose-built rentals, the highest number ever on record.

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