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Ontario announces more than $1.8B in new funding to help municipalities build homes | CBC News

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Ontario is investing more funding for housing- and community-enabling infrastructure, something Premier Doug Ford says will help municipalities get shovels in the ground to build more homes.

Ford made the pre-budget announcement at a news conference in Richmond Hill Thursday morning, Ford said he’d heard from municipalities “time and time again… that a lack of infrastructure is one of the biggest barriers to getting more homes built.”

In response, he said his government is investing more than $1.8 billion to help build at least 1.5 million homes by 2031.

“We’re launching the new Municipal Housing Infrastructure Program with $1 billion in funding that will support building core infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and water infrastructure,” Ford said.

He also said his government is “more than quadrupling” its spending on the Housing-Enabling Water System Fund.

“Through this fund, we’re now investing over $825 million over three years to help municipalities repair, rehabilitate and expand drinking water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure,” Ford said.

Last year the province launched a $1.2 billion Building Faster Fund, which rewards municipalities for meeting or exceeding their housing targets.

Toronto and Brampton are among the beneficiaries of significant funding for exceeding their housing targets.

Last month, Ford congratulated Toronto on its progress building homes in 2023 with a $114 million cheque, saying the city has knocked provincial housing targets out of the park.

According to the province’s housing tracker, set up last year, the city exceeded its mandated single-year 2023 goal by 51 per cent. As a result, the city has been given more money.

WATCH | Premier Doug Ford rewards Toronto for exceeding housing targets: 

Toronto to receive $114M from Ontario for exceeding housing targets

Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday that the provincial government is giving the city of Toronto a $114 million cheque for exceeding its housing targets.

Also last month, Ford handed Brampton a cheque for more than $25.5 million, saying the city has made tremendous progress in meeting provincial housing targets.

According to the province’s housing tracker, the city met 85 per cent of its mandated single-year 2023 goal. As a result, Brampton has been given millions in funding.

Fourplexes ‘off the table for us’: Ford

Meanwhile, in response to an Ontario Liberal proposal to allow the building of fourplexes across the province, Ford said his government is focused on building single-dwelling homes.

That drew criticism from federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser, who took to X, formerly Twitter, calling on Ford to change course.

“Ontario had an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to build more homes and take the housing crisis seriously. Instead, they chose red tape and the status quo,” Fraser said on Thursday.

“I sincerely hope the Ford government changes course on this decision.”

On Tuesday, Dr. Adil Shamji, MPP for Don Valley East and the Liberal critic for housing, introduced The Building Universal and Inclusive Land Development in Ontario Act (BUILD Ontario Act).

If passed, the BUILD Ontario Act will implement the Housing Affordability Task Force’s (HATF) recommendation to allow up to four residential units and up to four storeys to be built on any parcel of urban land that is zoned as “residential.” 

“I can assure you 1,000 per cent, you go in the middle of communities and start putting up four storey, six storey, eight storey buildings right deep in the communities, there’s going to be a lot of shouting and screaming. That’s a massive mistake,” Ford said. 

“We are not going to go into communities and build four storey or six storey buildings beside [homes]. It’s off the table for us. We’re going to build homes, single-dwelling homes, townhomes. That’s what we’re going to focus on.”

The premier’s office says municipalities can decide for themselves if they’d like to build fourplexes.

NDP says premier’s comments are out of touch

Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles described Ford’s comments as out of touch.

“Today, the premier told Ontarians that if you cannot afford a single detached home, you are not welcome in your neighbourhood. This is a gut-punch for the millions of Ontarians currently struggling to afford a home,” Stiles said in a news release. 

“Legalizing four-storey multiplexes will unlock immense housing potential right across our province. This is why the NDP has been calling for it for years, and why it was one of the top recommendations from the premier’s own Housing Affordability Task Force.” 

NDP Leader Marit Stiles speaks to members of the media before the tabling of the provincial budget, at Queen’s Park, in Toronto, on March 23, 2023.
Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles says legalizing four-storey multiplexes will unlock immense housing potential right across Ontario. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Stiles said New Democrats will keep fighting for real solutions that let people afford homes that meet their needs and their budgets, in their own communities.

Fourplexes are a critical part of developing the so-called missing middle of housing, said Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner.

“The Premier needs to talk to builders and developers who will tell you that, due to the land acquisition cost to make the finances work, you really need fourplexes or higher,” he said.

Speaking at Thursday’s news conference, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said that by significantly growing investments, “we’re able to more quickly build the roads, sewers and reservoirs needed to connect new homes to the grid and help more Ontarians become homeowners.”

Speaking on behalf of the municipalities, Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, who is also the chair of the Ontario Big City Mayors group, thanked the province for listening and working with mayors to address the issues they face building more housing. 

“Funding for critical infrastructure including water and wastewater, roads and bridges is necessary if we are going to achieve our housing goals,” Meed Ward said.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the government to build thriving, complete communities across Ontario.”

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