Ontario's new housing development laws
Over the past year, the Ontario government passed a suite of laws related to its goal of facilitating the construction of 1.5 million new homes in the province over the next decade. Here’s what you need to know.
Dentons — Shovels in the ground
Over the past months, the Provincial Government of Ontario introduced a suite of new and ambitious legislation with the stated goal of addressing Ontario’s housing crisis by increasing the housing supply and incentivizing the construction of 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. To summarize the status of these legislative changes:
On October 25, 2022, the provincial government introduced Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2002 (Bill 23), an omnibus bill that includes significant amendments to various Acts and regulations. Bill 23 has been the focus of considerable comment and debate over the past month, both online, in the press, and in the Legislative Assembly. Bill 23 received Royal Assent on November 28, 2022.
On November 4, 2022, the provincial government introduced proposed amendments to the Greenbelt Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan for the purposes of facilitating growth. These proposed amendments are open the public for comment until December 4, 2022.
On November 16, 2022, the provincial government introduced Bill 39, Better Municipal Governance Act, 2022 (Bill 39), which expands certain mayoral powers for the purposes of achieving “provincial priorities”. Bill 39 is progressing through the legislature and, as of the date of publishing, is on its second reading.
On November 23, 2022, the province proclaimed into force Bill 3, Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, 2022 (Bill 3), which also expands certain mayoral powers for the purposes of achieving “provincial priorities”, and which initially received Royal Assent on September 8, 2022.
Bennett Jones — Significant changes ahead: What you need to know about the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022
With the release of this proposed legislation, there are many proposals which could, especially when combined, have a significant benefit to assist developers in achieving the provinces goals under the Plan. There are so many changes, all cannot be detailed in a single post, but what follows is a general summary of several proposals which could be of particular significance.
One concept that permeates throughout the proposed legislation are amendments intended to put some restrictions over spiraling governmental "costs" in the development of new housing in Ontario. Building off amendments from the last four years (including the introduction of the Community Benefits Charge (CBC), the "freezing" of development charges and the introduction of the right to appeal parkland by-laws), the province has proposed a number of policies that will slow, if not reverse, several of the spiraling costs to new development. Proposals include:
- the introduction of a new "affordable housing" definition (likely in response to the definition introduced by Toronto in 2021);
- setting a five percent gross floor area cap on inclusionary zoning units;
- limiting CBC to new development;
- removing development charges;
- CBC and parkland from affordable units;
- further reducing the capital costs to which development charges can be applied; and
- creating mandatory phase in periods for new development charge by-laws.
McMillan — Bill 23: The More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022, and the Proposed Amendments to the Greenbelt Plan and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan
With the dust still settling on Bill 109, the More Homes for Everyone Act, Ontario’s provincial government introduced an omnibus piece of legislation aimed at supporting their latest Housing Supply Action Plan. Bill 23, titled the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 (the “Bill”) is part of a long-term strategy to provide attainable housing options for families across Ontario, and is seen by many in the building industry as a generational shift in municipal land use planning law. Concurrently, the Province has announced proposed amendments to the Greenbelt Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan.
Whereas the More Homes for Everyone Act, which received Royal Assent on April 14, 2022, provided more of a roadmap to increasing housing supply, Bill 23 specifically addresses how the Province aims to achieve this goal. The Bill is focused on the provincial government’s stated goal of having 1.5 million homes built over the next 10 years, and aims to do so by reducing bureaucratic costs and delays in construction, promoting housing construction near transit and building more attainable homes. The provincial government will also be assigning 29 of Ontario’s largest municipalities housing targets in addition to their existing, longer-term targets. The Bill represents a significant shift in land use planning approvals that will impact various stakeholders with often opposing interests such as developers, property owners, municipalities, conservation authorities, and numerous other actors in between.