Oshawa honours “political exercise” housing target pledge to Province

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Published February 6, 2023 at 4:51 pm

Oshawa Councillor Derek Giberson called it a “political PR exercise” but the City has pledged to build 23,000 new homes in the city over the next eight years, the city’s share of the Ontario government’s goal of building 1.5 million homes over the next decade.

The More Homes Built Faster Act (Bill 23) tasked 29 of the largest and fastest-growing municipalities with tailored goals to help the province meet housing targets. Oshawa’s target was 23,000 homes, an ambitious goal considering the city has never come close to building houses at that rate, despite smashing building permit records last year by $300 million.

Economic and Development Services staff, however, believe the target is achievable, citing 7,500 potential residential units on lots and blocks in the “development pipeline” and 15,500 more homes that can be achieved through the development of the Kedron Part II Plan, the Columbus Part II Plan and the intensification of the existing built fabric of the City.

Giberson did not disagree that the target could be reached but said he hoped the Economic and Development Committee, which approved the staff recommendation, could have provided “a little bit of pushback.”

“If they say jump’ we say, ‘how high’? And this time they told us how high.”

Bill 23 is meant to fast-track housing proposals on municipal agendas by cutting red tape on housing projects by eliminating or drastically decreasing the development charges home builders and developers would have to pay and restricting the powers of conservation authorities and the public to scrutinize development on environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands or floodplains.

Fifty-thousand of the homes included in the provincial targets are on protected greenbelt lands Premier Doug Ford and Housing Minister Steve Clark had previously sworn were off limits for development.

Clark had sent a letter to Oshawa City Clerk Mary Medeiros last October asking Oshawa to “demonstrate its commitment to accelerating housing supply” by taking the “necessary steps” to facilitate the construction of 23,000 new homes by 2031.

The motion from committee still has to be approved at a regular City Council meeting.

Other targets in Durham include 18,000 homes (Whitby), 17,000 (Ajax) and 13,000 homes (Pickering & Clarington).

The deadline for submitting an answer to the pledge request is March 1.

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