Clarington to vote on “achievable” but “ambitious” provincial housing targets Monday

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Published February 24, 2023 at 3:52 pm

Clarington is prepared to endorse the provincial More Homes Built Faster pledge to build 13,000 new homes by 2031, calling it “ambitious” but “achievable,” but staff is cautioning that delivering on the promise asked by Premier Doug Ford of every major community in Ontario is “highly dependent” on factors out of the municipality’s control.

The Conservative government is asking 29 of Ontario’s biggest cities and towns to hit housing goals over the next decade and passed legislation late last year to help municipalities achieve their targets by removing development fees, cutting out the Ontario Municipal Board and local conservation authorities from of some decision-making and allowing most urban residential property owners the right to build up to three units on their land.

Clarington’s ask is 13,000 units, with an answer required by Housing Minister Steve Clark by March 1, and municipal staff declared in a report that is an “achievable goal” based on the number of units already proposed in subdivisions and site plan applications.

Given a dozen or so residential plans in the works and planned higher densities around the two future GO train station areas, there is enough land in the existing urban area to accommodate the new units, but the report also states that saying the targets are achievable is not the same as making it happen.

“The delivery of these units is highly dependant on many other external factors and influences, such as market conditions, commitments from the building community, and public investment in infrastructure,” noted Planning and Infrastructure Director Carlos Salazar. “It is also important to note that an increase in housing supply may seem like a simple solution to this complex housing crisis but the means to delivering more affordable and attainable housing for Ontario residents is a much more difficult undertaking and would require a further in-depth analysis.”

Salazar also pointed out that the Province did not set a target for affordable housing in the pledge.

While admittedly achievable, planning staff also said the goal is “ambitious” given the municipality has never built more than 1,011 units in a single year. Hitting the target of 13,000 by 2031 would require building 1,444 units per year.

Infrastructure, such as roads, sewer and water would have to be supplied to some of the areas as well, areas that are under Regional jurisdiction, Salazar added. As developers would have to be totally on board.

“Progress of approved units to construction is largely dependent on the developers and their business motivation.”

If the goal is to create more affordable and attainable housing in Ontario, “increasing housing supply alone will not address this issue,” Salazar continued. “Other external factors may play a bigger part in achieving this goal, including how developers’ cost savings resulting from the changes will be passed onto consumers in the form of more affordable housing choices.”

Council will vote on the pledge at Monday’s special meeting with staff recommending approval with three conditions:

  • That the Province and the Durham Region deliver the infrastructure improvements to support the Provincial target of 13,000 units for Clarington by 2031
  • That the Municipality not be penalized financially or otherwise, for failing to meet the goal as the housing targets are subject to market conditions, supply, labour issues, etc.
  • That the Province consults and engages with local municipalities on future legislative changes in order to understand the financial and logistical implications to deliver housing units quickly
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