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Mississauga loses out over $30M after not reaching Ontario housing target

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The City of Mississauga has lost out on potentially millions in funding after failing to achieve its provincial housing targets.

In 2022, the Ontario government set housing targets for most major cities as part of its efforts to build 1.5 million homes by 2031.

Each city was also given an annual goal and told that if they achieved 80 per cent of the housing starts, they would be eligible for funding as part of the province’s three-year “Building Faster Fund.”

Cities that exceed their goals are also eligible for additional funding bonuses—but those who did not would receive nothing.

In a letter sent Feb. 14, Ontario Housing Minister Paul Calandra wrote that Mississauga was no longer eligible for this funding as it did not achieve 80 per cent of its target.

“I encourage you to work towards eligibility for future program years,” he said.

Mississauga was tasked with building 8,800 homes in 2023, measured by comparing monthly housing starts provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation as well as long-term care bed data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

At the time the letter was sent, Mississauga had only reached 39 per cent of its goal, with 3,470 homes on their way to being built. Of those homes, 384 are long-term care beds.

As the province began to roll out their ‘Building Funding Faster’ cheques to municipalities, Acting Mayor Joe Horneck said he was “disappointed” with the province’s decision, especially considering the city’s changes to streamline housing.

“While we remain committed to meeting our shared housing target, we have been clear that cities must be measured on the factors they can influence. As a measurement, housing starts create winners and losers based on market forces out of the control of municipalities,” he wrote to Calandra in response to losing the funding. “Ontario cities are all at a different stage of growth and development, which makes using housing starts even more problematic.”

“Given the nature of construction in Mississauga, which is predominantly complex, in-fill, highrise buildings, it can take years for a project to move from sales and marketing through to construction start and completion.”

He noted the city has approved over 31,000 residential units in the last three years. More than 12,000 units are under construction and more than 33,000 residential units are undergoing site plan review.

The Building Faster Fund is critical to city infrastructure, Horneck said, and residents shouldn’t be penalized if the industry doesn’t start construction or if landowners choose not to submit development applications.

The City of Mississauga said they could have been eligible for $32 million through the Building Faster Fund. They noted that this was considered additional funding and not incorporated into their budget for spending.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday about Burlington’s housing starts—which are also rather low and would exclude them from funding—Calandra said their goal is to get shovels in the ground.

“We want to get people moving into homes and, as I’ve said, a permit doesn't mean they're moving into a home.”

Any money from the Building Faster Fund that is not given to municipalities will be made available for other infrastructure-related projects through an application process. The cities of Mississauga and Burlington can apply for that money.

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