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Ontario has enough land for 2M homes without the Greenbelt, report finds


Ontario has enough land to build more than two million homes by 2031 without developing the Greenbelt, according to a report commissioned by environmental advocates.

The report, released by Environmental Defence earlier this week, also suggests this existing capacity is “well distributed across municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH).”

“The province is taking a look at the problems that we face, which are real, and have determined that if developers have more land available, they will build more homes faster and cheaper,” Former Waterloo director of community planning and author of the report, Kevin Eby, told Newstalk1010’s Moore in the Morning on Wednesday.

“But there's absolutely no basis in reality for that.”

The Progressive Conservative government set a goal of building 1.5 million new homes across Ontario by 2031 in 10 years. Using that target, the government then issued new regulations to remove 7,400 acres of protected Greenbelt land and open it up for housing.

Officials said they expect about 50,000 new homes to be built on the former Greenbelt land, with construction to begin by no later than 2025.

However according to the report, there were other options.

It found that about 1.3 million units could be erected in existing “built-up areas” inside GGH municipalities. An additional 700,000 units could be built either on “designated greenfield areas” or rural land.

“We found that they've had existing capacity for years and have failed to deliver the supply and especially the affordable supply that's required,” Eby said.

“What the report does is it demonstrates that if we're building the type of housing that we actually need in Ontario, to accommodate future growth, at a level that's affordable for people, we already have enough capacity.”

The report analyzes land need assessment data provided by municipalities to determine if urban expansions are required. This data, the report suggests, shows that municipalities have identified capacity for the two million new units within the GGH, meaning no additional overall housing capacity was required in order to meet the provincial goal.

This isn’t the first time a group of environmental or housing experts have said cutting into protected land was unnecessary to meet its targets.

The Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force, made of industry leaders and experts, found a shortage of land wasn’t the cause of the housing crisis.

“Land is available, both inside the existing built-up areas and on undeveloped land outside greenbelts,” the 2022 provincial report round.

“Greenbelts and other environmentally sensitive areas must be protected, and farms provide food and food security. Relying too heavily on undeveloped land would whittle away too much of the already small share of land devoted to agriculture.”

The provincial government has been heavily criticized for its decision to carve up the Greenbelt, with opposition parties requesting both the Auditor General and the Ontario Integrity Commissioner to review whether any rules were broken or if developers were tipped off ahead of time.

At the legislature on Wednesday, the PCs were questioned by the opposition over why the government made the decision to build on the Greenbelt. Housing Minister Steve Clark sidestepped the question, saying instead that the government wants to help young couples realize their dream of home ownership.

“We made it very clear during the election that the Housing Affordability Task Force would be our long-term road map. We promised Ontarians we’d put a plan in place to build 1.5 million homes by 2031,” Clark said.

“We’ve got a lot more work to do with our municipal partners to get the plan in place to build those homes and that’s exactly what this government is going to do.” Top Stories

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