On February 27th, the Alliance for a Liveable Ontario released a report written by professional planner Kevin Eby. The report shows municipalities across the Golden Horseshoe have already set aside enough land to build over 2 million housing units, way more than the province's housing target of 1.5 million units for all of Ontario by 2031. Moreover, Eby's report suggests these numbers dramatically under-represent how many homes could be built. The numbers come from Land Needs Assessment reports prepared by municipalities, at the request of the Province. They use a provincially mandated methodology that significantly under-represents how many housing units can actually be built within existing urban boundaries.
On March 7th, the Regional Planning Commissioners of Ontario (RPCO) released a report that surveyed 15 municipalities in Ontario, containing 70% of the province’s population. This report found that over 225,000 housing units in these municipalities are already under construction and another 1,277,000 units are either fully approved for development or already in the approvals pipeline to be approved. While it's clear not every housing unit in the approvals pipeline will get built, the RPCO report shows there is enough land already set aside to build the 1.5 million housing units the Province wants by 2031.
Bottom line: There is no land supply shortage and therefore no justification for removing the 7,400 acres of lands from Greenbelt protection. Indeed, with appropriate density there is more than enough land within existing urban boundaries to build all the housing we need. However, there is a shortage of real action by governments to build housing units for low income Ontarians who are suffering the most.
On March 21st, Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault announced the Federal Government will undertake a study to assess threats to lands in and around the Rouge National Park, including those in the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve (DRAP). The so-called DRAP lands were removed from Greenbelt protection by the Ford government last fall supposedly to build "affordable" housing. This new federal study will hopefully set the stage for future federal intervention that stops the misguided plans by the Province to use these lands for housing and refocuses efforts on building housing on land already available within existing towns and cities. You can read Environmental Defence's response here.
For years OGA member groups have been saying that urban sprawl harms the Greenbelt and that building sustainable communities helps the Greenbelt. On March 21st, the Alliance for a Liveable Ontario announced "Building Hope" a new webinar series that will help us build sustainable communities (and a liveable Ontario). The series is designed for residents, community leaders and experts.
Each webinar features one or more key speakers who share insights, evidence and best practices from Ontario and across the world. Then, participants get a chance to pose questions, make comments and connect with each other.
A. Building the Right Housing in the Right Place
Webinar 1: Where is the Land we need for housing?
Webinar 2: What type of housing do we actually need?
Webinar 3: Empowering Homeowners to become "Mini Developers".
Webinar 4: Success Story: Downtown Kitchener.
B. Building Housing and Neighbourhoods that are truly Affordable
Webinar details to follow soon.
C. (Re)Building our Neighbourhoods to Address Climate and Social Equity Problems
Webinar details to follow soon.
The Municipal Leaders for Stronger Communities is holding their next event called "Addressing Local Housing Issues: From Ineffective to Effective Solutions" on Wednesday, April 5th at 4 pm. It features Colin Best (President, Association of Municipalities of Ontario) and Kevin Eby (Registered Planner, Former Director of Community Planning with the Region of Waterloo).
The panel discussion will focus on Kevin's recent report on the large amounts of land already available for housing and discussion about what municipalities can do to address the actual causes of the housing problems facing their residents.
While the event is designed for elected officials, community leaders are welcome to attend. Please spread the word.
You can register here.