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BILD: Dealing with the infrastructure challenge

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To increase housing supply, all levels of government must work in collaboration and prioritize infrastructure development

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With Canada’s rapid population and increased immigration levels, we can expect the housing need in Ontario and the GTA to remain high in years ahead.

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And while significant steps have been taken to increase housing supply, an unfortunate reality is that challenges surrounding existing infrastructure and building new infrastructure remains one of the most critical development bottlenecks in the GTA.

In recognition of these challenges, the provincial government announced in late March that it was investing $1 billion in a new Municipal Housing Infrastructure Program and adding $625 million to the existing Housing Enabling Water System Fund.

We wholeheartedly applaud the provincial government for this investment and their commitment to enhancing housing-supportive infrastructure, particularly water and wastewater.

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We also applaud the federal government for their housing infrastructure announcement in early April, which includes a top up of $400 million to the Housing Accelerate Fund and $6 billion for a new Housing Infrastructure Fund.

It is exactly this type of support and this type of infrastructure that is needed to meet Ontario’s housing objective of building 1.5 million homes by 2031.

New infrastructure is expensive. Municipalities are not able to absorb these costs on their own and currently, the model for funding includes adding costs for new housing-supportive infrastructure into development charges levied on new homes.

These are then rolled into the cost of a new home and passed on to buyers. With development charges and added municipal costs exceeding $100,000 on an average single family home in most GTA municipalities, this current model unfairly burdens new homeowners, further erodes affordability, and ignores the fact that all residents benefit from the new infrastructure and services. It’s clear that the concept that “growth pays for growth” is reaching its maximum capacity.

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New housing cannot progress, workers cannot be hired and shovels cannot go in the ground if there are no sewers (or sewer capacity), water pipes or other services that the home requires.

To increase supply and enable the building of new homes, all levels of government must work in collaboration and prioritize the rapid expansion of housing-supportive infrastructure. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities recently indicated that infrastructure support is majorly needed and is one of their top priorities.

The recent investment announcements by both the provincial and federal government will help create the crucial infrastructure that developers and home builders desperately need to get to work building homes to meet the ever-increasing demand in Ontario and the GTA.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA. For the latest industry news and new home data, visit www.bildgta.ca.

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