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Ontario housing minister tells stakeholders to 'dream big' to get shovels in the ground


Ontario’s housing minister is urging municipal partners and stakeholders to “dream big” in order to ensure 1.5 million homes get built by 2031.

Paul Calandra kicked off Ontario’s first annual housing forum on Monday with a speech about working collaboratively to get more shovels in the ground.

“It is my intention as minister to ensure that we meet as many of the goals of the housing supply action plan as possible,” he said. “We are a third of the way there, but there is a heck of a lot more work that needs to be done.”

Of the 73 recommendations made by the Housing Affordability Task Force in February 2022, the province has fully implemented 23 of them.

Fourteen others are in progress and 37 are under review.

Building 1.5 million homes was a campaign promise made by the Doug Ford government in 2022. They have made a slew of legislative changes in an effort to meet this goal, including overriding municipal zoning laws, allowing construction of up to three units on a residential lot, exempting certain developments from additional charges, and changing the definition of affordable housing.

It also includes carving up the Greenbelt and changing municipal urban boundaries—two bills that were reversed after reports criticized the way in which decisions were made.

As of November 2023, the Progressive Conservatives still have a long way to go in order to meet that goal.

The province’s fall economic statement indicated that Ontario expects to see almost 90,000 housing starts this year, and about the same levels for the next two years. By 2026 it predicts housing starts to be around 94,000.

Housing starts represent the number of homes that have already begun construction during a given period.

The province’s goal was to see 110,000 new housing starts this year, ramping up to 175,000 per year in 2026.


Calandra told the group of representatives from 75 stakeholders and municipalities the government will be “doubling down” on policies to get shovels in the ground.

This includes the implementation of a “use it or lose it” policy for approved projects that the minister says is still being ironed out. He said the proposal will be part of an update to the provincial planning statement.

Few details have been released about how this proposal would work, although Calandra insisted it would not be punitive, but rather encourage developers to move on their projects.

“We will work very closely together to make sure that we have an effective use it or lose it policy one that is not punitive, but one that works for everybody.”

Despite reversing legislation guiding the Greenbelt and urban boundary changes, which critics argue occurred too quickly without appropriate consultation, Calandra has said that cities need to “be more ambitious” when it comes to the building of homes.

At the housing forum, participants were asked to speak with government officials about their concerns, bring up ideas, and brainstorm as to how they can meet their housing targets.

“If I could say a couple of last things, dream big today,” he said. “let’s come out of this with a good path forward so we understand what we have to do to get that done.” Top Stories

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