Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force report
From February 2022
The Ford government established a Housing Affordability Task Force, headed by Scotiabank CEO Jake Lawrence, to write a report in just a couple months (December 2021 to January 2022). The report notes that over 10 years, Ontario house prices had nearly tripled, from an average of $330,000 to $920,000.
Report of the Housing Affordability Task Force, February 2022
Some of its recommendations:
Make housing the priority. (1) Set a 10-year target of 1.5 million additional homes. (This is about twice the current rate - in 2020, Ontario built 75,000 homes.)
Allow greater density as of right. (3) Make it legal (“as of right”), anywhere in Ontario, to build up to four units and up to four storeys on any residential lot. Allow single-staircase construction up to four storeys.
(4) Make it legal to convert commercial buildings to residential or mixed use.
(5) Make it legal to build secondary suites, laneway homes, and garden suites. (A garden suite is like a laneway home, i.e. a home separate from the main building, but there’s no lane.)
(6) Make it legal to rent a room (“multi-tenant housing”).
(7) If a municipality fails to meet housing targets: “Allow ‘as of right’ zoning up to unlimited height and unlimited density in the immediate proximity of individual major transit stations.”
(8) Make it legal to build up to 11 storeys on transit routes (including bus routes), with no minimum parking requirements.
(11) Support building housing on undeveloped land, including outside current municipal boundaries.
(12) Do not require site plan approval for a project of up to 10 units that fits into an official municipal plan. Establish province-wide rules for minimum lot size, setbacks, building height and depth, angular planes, and floor space index (in BC it’s usually called FSR).
Streamline approvals. (19) Have legislated timelines for each step of the review and approval process.
Willing the end, but not the means
Unfortunately, not a lot of these recommendations made it into Ontario’s Bill 23, passed in November 2022. The province still talks about the need to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years, but it hasn’t made the necessary changes.
Summary of Bill 23 by Borden Ladner Gervais. Text of Bill 23. There’s changes relating to processes and development charges, but in terms of land use restrictions:
Allow three units on any residential lot (see recommendation 5), instead of four units and four storeys (recommendation 3). Parking minimum cannot be higher than one space per unit.
For infill development of up to 10 units, site plan control does not apply (see recommendation 12).
Require rezoning near major transit stations within one year.
A clip went around Twitter of Steve Clark, Ontario’s housing minister, being asked why the province had decided not to implement the task force’s recommendation to allow four units and four storeys everywhere.
Full interview below. (Direct link to Clark’s being asked about four storeys.)
Scotiabank report on the structural housing shortage, May 2021. Which province has the largest structural housing deficit?, January 2022.
Why a 4-storey apartment could be coming to a residential street near you. Joanne Chianello, CBC News, January 2022.
Housing affordability task force’s vision could fundamentally reshape land-use planning in Ontario. Alex Bozikovic in the Globe and Mail, February 2022.
Doug Ford's housing task force calls for more density, less public consultation. Mike Crawley, CBC, February 2022.
Bill Hulet summarizes the housing task force report, March 2022. Part two.
Mike Moffatt’s comments on Bill 23: “I’m disappointed and a little surprised that so few of the task force recommendations made it into today’s announcement. It does sound like they’re at least considering them. I think what was in there was good, but a lot more needs to be done.” The Star, March 2022.
Doug Ford believes his housing bill is ‘bold.’ It isn’t. Globe editorial, November 2022. “In a cabinet briefing document, obtained by The Globe and Mail and other media, the three-units proposal is predicted to produce just 50,000 new homes over a decade. It’s almost pointless to note that 50,000 is barely 3 per cent of 1.5-million.”
Single-staircase construction probably deserves its own post.