HOUSING SUPPLY ACTION PLAN CONSULTATION: OHBA LOOKING FOR FEEDBACK!
On November 28, the Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) made an announcement that further solidified the Ontario government’s commitment to provide more housing supply and choice to Ontarians. Earlier in November the PC government released a Housing Supply Action Plan consultation to address the barriers to creating more housing. The final plan following the current consultation is set to be released in Spring 2019. It will include measures that the province can take to increase the supply of new ownership and rental housing in Ontario and will sup- port the government’s commitment to reduce red tape and make it easier to live and do business in Ontario.The Housing Supply in Ontario Consultation document can be accessed here. The province has also put together a powerpoint toolkit outlining key issues.
OHBA is consulting broadly with members and will be consolidating our historic positions, resolutions passed at the Annual Meeting of Members and seeking input from members and local associations. This consultation represents an important opportunity to share with the government our solutions for addressing the barriers getting in the way of new ownership and rental housing supply.
- Speed: It takes too long for development projects to get approved;
- Mix: There are too many restrictions on what can be built to get the right mix of housing where it is needed;
- Cost: Development costs are too high because of high land prices and government-imposed fees and charges;
- Rent: It I too hard to be a landlord in Ontario, and tenants need to be protected; and,
- Innovation: Other concerns, opportunities and innovations to increase housing supply.The consultation closes on January 25, 2019 and OHBA strongly encourages local home builders’ association Executive Officers to share this consulta- tion document broadly with their members for feedback. Please provide your comments and suggestions to Mike Collins-Williams, Director of Policy, no later than January 17, 2019.
BILL 66, RESTORING ONTARIO’S COMPETITIVENESS ACT, 2018
On December 9th the Ford Government tabled, Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 which is an omnibus Legislation making amend- ments to a variety of pieces of legislation. A number of proposed amendments directly impact the home building and land development industries including:
Open-for-business planning by-law:
The government is proposing to make changes to the Planning Act to create a new economic development tool, the “open-for-business planning by-law”. The tool would be available to all local municipalities, if certain prescribed criteria are met, to ensure they can act quickly to attract business- es seeking development sites. A municipality’s request to use an open-for-business planning by-law would need to be accompanied by information that would be prescribed in a proposed new regulation (ERO 013-4239 has been posted for a 45-day consultation until January 20, 2019), such as a description of the subject lands, land use planning information, and open-for-business information, including details about the proposed employment opportunity.
Open Tendering For Government Projects:
The Act amends the Labour Relations Act, 1995 to deem municipalities and certain local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and public bodies to be non-construction employers. Currently, a municipality can be deemed a construction employer and if unionized only companies that are signatories to those collective agreements can bid on government work. If passed, trade unions that represent employees of these employers who are employed, or who may be employed, in the construction industry no longer represent those employees. Any collective agreement binding the employer and the trade union ceases to apply in so far as it applies to the construction industry.
Ministry of Labour:
• Stop requiring employers to post the ESA poster in the workplace, but retain the requirement that they provide the poster to employees.
• Employers are already required to give each employee a copy of the most recent version of the ESA poster, in addition to posting it in the work-
place. The proposed change eliminates the duplication for employers of having to do both.
• Amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to reduce regulatory burden on businesses, including no longer requiring them to obtain
approval from the Director of Employment Standards for excess hours of work and overtime averaging.
These proposed changes would eliminate the requirement for employers to apply for Ministry of Labour approval for excess weekly hours of work and overtime averaging. It would retain these requirements for employee-written agreements. These changes would set four weeks as the maximum time that an employer could average an employee’s hours of work for the purposes of determining overtime pay.
GROWTH PLAN IMPLEMENTATION
The Ontario Growth Secretariat (OGS) recognized industry and municipal concerns regarding some key implementation challenges for the 2017 Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Notably, the OGS established five implementation working groups in which OHBA members participated in during the fall to address key areas identified as potential barriers to meeting the objectives of the Growth Plan.
OHBA has submitted recommendations to the government including one letter specific to Agricultural System and Natural Heritage System Mapping and a second letter covering Employment Area Conversions, Settlement Boundary Expansions and Density and Intensification Targets. OHBA anticipates the government to release proposed amendments to the Growth Plan for consultation this winter and will be consulting with members to respond to the government with industry recommendations.
MADE IN ONTARIO ENVIRONMENTAL PLAN
On November 29th, the Provincial Government released a new Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to protect our air, land and water and reduce litter and waste while lowering greenhouse gas emissions and helping communities protect themselves from climate change. During the consultation process leading up to the release of the plan, OHBA made a submission earlier in November outlining key industry priorities to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The new plan released by the government has been posted for public input on the Environmental Registry (013-4208) until January 28, 2019 – OHBA will be making a submission and is seeking comments. Please contact OHBA Director of Policy, Mike Collins-Williams to provide input.
- The new plan commits to what the PCs see as a targeted, pragmatic and flexible approach to achieving the Province’s environmental objectives, while balancing Ontario’s economic interests. This includes a strong focus on the impacts on Ontario businesses and jobs, and more effectively rec- ognizing the contributions of industries that have already made significant strides to green their operations. A few of key elements and language in the proposed plan OHBA members should be aware of:
- Modernize the Building Code to better equip homes and buildings to be better able to withstand extreme weather events.
- Review the Building Code and support the adoption of cost effective energy efficiency measures that can lower the cost of electricity and natural gas needed to operate buildings.
- Ontario is currently a leading jurisdiction in Canada when it comes to energy efficiency standards in its Building Code.
- Look to modernize Ontario’s environmental assessment process, which dates back to the 1970s, to address duplication, streamline processes, im-prove service standards to reduce delays, and better recognize other planning processes.
- Recognize that excess soil is often a resource that can be reused. Set clear rules to allow industry to reduce construction costs, limit soil being sent to landfill and lower greenhouse gas emissions from trucking by supporting beneficial reuses of safe soils.
- Revise the brownfields regulation and the record of site condition guide to reduce barriers to redevelop and revitalize historically contaminated lands, putting vacant prime land back to good use.
- Work in collaboration with municipalities and stakeholders to ensure that conservation authorities focus and deliver on their core mandate of protecting people and property from flooding and other natural hazards, and conserving natural resources.
- Improve coordination of land use planning and environmental approval processes by updating ministry guidelines to help municipalities avoid the impacts of conflicting land uses.
- We will consider how wastewater and stormwater financing could be updated to improve investment and support new and innovative technologies and practices
- Work with the Ontario Real Estate Association to encourage the voluntary display of home energy efficiency information on real estate listings to better inform buyers and encourage energy-efficiency measures.
PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT CHARGES REFORM
OHBA anticipates a very busy 2019 at Queen’s Park as Ontario’s new government puts together a Housing Supply Action Plan with potential legislative, regulatory and policy changes that will impact Ontario’s land use planning system as well as government imposed charges (including Development Charges). The provincial government has committed to address the imbalance between strong demand for housing and limited supply including a care- ful review of government imposed changes that have made it more difficult and expensive to develop new housing. In late December, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing held a stakeholders workshop that included OHBA specific to Development Charges and a Provincial Land Use Planning Workshop is scheduled for early January. These important discussions with the province will lay the groundwork for additional policy and legislative work later in 2019.