New provincial announcement ‘critical’ for Ottawa to reach housing goals: GOHBA


An announcement from the provincial government could be just the pressure Ottawa’s new city council needs to reach its housing goals, says Jason Burggraaf, executive director of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association.

The housing changes, announced this week by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, will override municipal zoning laws and, among other things, allow for the construction of up to three units on each residential lot without municipal permission. 

For example, a basement apartment and garden or laneway house could be built on a property and rented out to tenants. Duplexes and triplexes could also be built on single residential lots, regardless of municipal zoning laws. 

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“Overall, there’s lots to digest and a lot to untangle,” said Burggraaf. “But the biggest focus for Ottawa overall will be setting a housing target for the municipality.”

As part of this week’s announcement, Ottawa has been assigned a target of 161,000 homes by 2031 by the province and will be required to develop “pledges” outlining how it will meet the targets. The Progressive Conservative government has promised to build 1.5 million homes in 10 years and this new legislation is intended to speed up development.

Just days after the election of a new mayor and council, Burggraaf says it is important for the city to have a clear number as a housing goal.

“That’s critical for me,” he said. “It can help the city focus on a measurable goal that we can all strive towards.

“Part of the problem with Ottawa’s Official Plan is (that) it is focused on other policies that they wanted to do, which are laudable goals, but the actual number of houses was an afterthought or a byproduct of these other achievements,” said Burrgraaf. “The production of housing wasn’t a targeted clear goal.

“For the province to ask Ottawa for a pledge to build this many new homes shows it is a critical thing for the city to deliver on this goal … we have to ramp up.”

The province also proposes to freeze, reduce and exempt fees associated with new home construction in order to spur building. Affordable housing, non-profit housing and inclusionary zoning units — meaning affordable housing in new developments — as well as some “attainable” units would be exempt from various charges.

The new housing plan also includes introducing more housing density near transit stations, and using surplus government lands, modular homes and rent-to-own programs.

The government said it will consult with municipalities on reducing the property tax burden for multi-residential apartment buildings, as they are often taxed at double the rate of other residential properties.

The new legislation also proposes to temporarily freeze development fees that go to conservation authorities — they issue development permits in certain areas such as those prone to flooding.

As well, the bill would remove a minimum number of public meetings for draft plans to subdivide land, prioritize Ontario Land Tribunal hearings for cases that create the most housing, limit third-party appeals at the tribunal, and strengthen rules for heritage designations.

With files from Canadian Press

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