Pickering, Vaughan on pace for $22 million in bonuses for being on track to surpass housing targets

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Published August 21, 2023 at 2:31 pm

Pickering waterfront housing development

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced $1.2 billion in incentives for cities and towns to meet housing targets, with Pickering and Vaughan as communities that have are on pace to reap the benefits.

In a speech today at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s conference in London, Ford said the moves are to help communities build at least 1.5 million homes by 2031 in order to meet the needs of the province’s fast-growing population.

Ford says the new Building Faster Fund, a new three-year, $1.2 billion program that provides significant new funding based on performance against provincial housing targets, will provide funding for municipalities that meet at least 80 per cent of their annual housing creation target assigned by the province. The money can be used to pay for housing-enabling infrastructure such as roads, sewer and water.

“If you get an ‘A’ you become eligible for funding. If you do worse than an ‘A’ you don’t,” Ford explained in his speech, citing Pickering and Vaughan as among the province’s “best performers” in working towards achieving their housing targets. “Municipalities that exceed their target…get a bonus.”

Ford said that at Pickering’s current pace of building the city is on track to exceed provincial targets by more than 150 per cent.

“If these numbers hold,” the Premier said, “Pickering could be eligible for over $5 million in new funding.”

Vaughan is on track to top their target by about 140 per cent, which would net the York Region city $17 million in bonuses.

“These are incredible sums of money that will reward municipalities for building homes and help pay for important infrastructure and community building projects,” Ford added.

Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe said the numbers are “particularly promising” for the city’s housing targets. “This economic boost will enable us to enhance vital infrastructure and better manage community growth for the benefit of our residents now and into the future.”

The Building Faster Fund, which will partially compensate municipalities for major cuts made last year to developers’ fees – which has always helped pay for the infrastructure needed to support new housing developments in the past.

“Over the past year, I’ve spoken to thousands of residents and they collectively told me that affordable home ownership and a variety of housing choices were their highest priorities,” Ashe addeds. “I think this new program will help address these concerns by incentivizing municipalities to meet and exceed provincial targets – ultimately increasing housing supply not only in Pickering, but across the Province.”

Ontario saw the second-highest number of housing starts since 1988 last year, with just over 96,000 new homes. Ontario also broke ground on nearly 15,000 rental units, the highest number ever on record.

The fund will start flowing next year.

Doug Ford at the AMO Conference in London. Photo Canadian Press

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