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Ontario is listening: 2024 budget progresses commitment to build more housing faster

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Earlier this week, the Government of Ontario released its 2024 provincial budget. The real estate industry weighs in.

“(The) 2024 Ontario Budget reaffirms the provincial government’s commitment to investing in building more homes, infrastructure and transit across the province. Ontario realtors commend the Province’s $190 billion investment to expand critical infrastructure over the next decade, including highways, transit, homes and high-speed internet — necessary improvements to support new communities and economic growth,” says Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) says that Ontario’s housing affordability crisis leaves individuals and families on the sidelines of the Canadian dream of homeownership. “To reverse this trend, governments must prioritize bold policy changes that will speed up the building of thousands of new homes,” says TRREB president, Jennifer Pearce.


Working toward realtor-led solutions from OREA analysis


OREA reports it’s pleased to see some progress toward several realtor-led solutions from its recent Analysis of Ontario’s Efforts to Boost Housing Supply mentioned in the budget.

In addition to measures directly addressing housing, the budget also progresses on several long-standing infrastructure priorities for Ontario realtors critical to the province’s long-term economic success — including support for Ontario’s Ring of Fire region, protecting Toronto’s waterfront via the Port Lands Flood Protection Project and investment in transit to improve connectivity province-wide.


Legislation has “cut red tape and streamlined approvals”


TRREB has worked with the Ford Government and the Ontario real estate industry to introduce five pieces of legislation: More Homes, More Choice, More Homes Built Faster, Affordable Homes and Good Jobs, Helping Homebuyers Protecting Tenants and Strong Mayors Build Homes.

“Each of these acts has cut red tape and streamlined approvals to ensure the Greater Golden Horseshoe can meet the housing supply targets. We will continue to take action and work with policymakers to ensure homeownership and rental properties are affordable in our region for future generations,” says Pearce.


“Good progress since 2018 … but government must keep foot on the gas” to hit housing goal


Hudak notes that the government has made good progress since 2018, and OREA is pleased with the additional steps in the right direction. However, he points out, “To reach the goal of building 1.5 million new homes by 2031, and bring affordability closer to home for Ontario families, the government must keep their foot on the gas and take bold action.”

He gives examples, including allowing water and wastewater services to be offered through a municipal services corporation, modernizing zoning to support commercial-to-residential conversions and greater density along transit corridors and eliminating exclusionary zoning.

TRREB notes that Ontario is moving ahead with critical funding to connect developable land to water, sewer and other housing-enabling infrastructure. “This infrastructure funding will unlock thousands of new homes across the Greater Toronto Area,” says Pearce.


Modular and denser housing


Pearce indicates that the Province is following TRREB’s advice to go all-in on modular housing. “Modular homes are built quickly and are a cost-effective option that will help Ontario meet its housing supply targets,” she says. “The budget signals the province’s strong commitment to using modular housing and more innovative technologies to help solve the housing affordability crisis.”

Hudak notes that building more homes on existing properties is essential to unlocking affordable homeownership. “Several municipalities, including Toronto, London and Barrie, have led the way by proactively enabling four units as-of-right per lot, and it remains a key recommendation of the Province’s own Housing Affordability Task Force.”


Tax policies may or may not meaningfully impact supply


Royal LePage says that the Province’s supply-side policies, aimed at boosting the much-needed inventory of homes, are a step in the right direction. For example, it commends the plan to enable Ontario municipalities to lower property taxes on new multi-residential rental properties — provided that municipalities take advantage of the initiative.

However, the company says the decision to expand municipal powers to impose vacant home and speculation taxes is unlikely to make a meaningful impact on supply, as evidenced by existing tax programs in other cities in Canada.


“Today’s Ontario Budget is a step in the right direction, and Ontario realtors thank Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy and the Ford Government for putting forward a strong fiscal foundation,” says Hudak.

Likewise, Pearce notes that the budget release “provides critical support to the province’s effort to save the Canadian dream of homeownership.”


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