The City of Toronto's ability to fund new housing programs and related community infrastructure is currently at "high risk" due to the significant financial impacts arising from Ontario's Bill 23.
Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, freezes, discounts, and exempts some housing projects, including affordable housing, from development fees that would otherwise go to the City. The revenue loss, the City says, will amount to approximately $1.2B over 10 years.
"These changes have negatively impacted the City's key tools for creating and preserving affordable rental housing," said Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner and Executive Director of City Planning, and Abigail Bond, Executive Director of Housing Secretariat.
"In the absence of the City being fully reimbursed by the province for the lost revenues related to the above legislative changes, plus provided with additional financial and policy tools, it will not be able to provide the services and infrastructure essential to support growth over the long term, deliver existing housing programs necessary to scale up supply, and achieve complete communities overall."
The revelation comes courtesy of a new work plan for Toronto's Housing Action Plan 2022-2026. The plan aims to "achieve or exceed" the province's target of building 285K new homes in Toronto by 2031. The municipal target contributes to Ontario's overarching goal of building 1.5M new homes across the province by 2031, which is also laid out in Bill 23.
The work plan is included in a City staff report, prepared by Lintern and Bond, that will be considered by the Executive Committee on March 21. The report also recommends Housing Action Plan priorities for the 2022-2026 City Council term.
Priorities will focus on removing policy and zoning barriers to building housing, supporting the development of co-op, affordable, and rental housing through new and refined housing policies and programs, leveraging public lands for new housing, preserving existing affordable rental housing, and monitoring the Housing Action Plan's progress.
Specific actions include the Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods initiative, which will advance permissions for missing middle housing, facilitating apartment infill, and as-of-right zoning for major transit station areas.
More "immediate" deliverables, which will be brought forward over the next two months, include the launch of publicly accessible data dashboards that will track the status of affordable rental units, a recommendation to enable as-of-right zoning for multiplexes in all neighbourhoods across the city, and an approach to meeting Ontario's requested pledge of 285K new homes.
"While the City of Toronto is committed to continuing to take action (within its jurisdiction) and has already made significant financial investments toward increasing housing supply, participation from the federal and provincial governments is critical to deliver the 'right' supply needed to meet the needs of current and future residents," Lintern and Bond said.