Could a housing revolution transform Canadian cities?

Vancouver 4-plex

A new type of home called a fourplex is being hailed as the answer to Canada’s acute housing shortage. But why is there so much opposition?

Angela Jiang says she is much happier since she moved out of a high-rise apartment building.

She used to live on the 68th floor of a condo tower in downtown Toronto, but five years ago she relocated to a four-unit residential building called a fourplex, in the city’s more low-rise midtown area.

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Bill 185, Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act 2024

Highway 401 at Freeport Diversion

Bill 185, released on April 10, 2024 affects 17 acts, including the Planning Act, City of Toronto Act, Development Charges Act, and others. Bill 185 has reached second reading and was referred to the Province’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. On April 10th, the Province also released a revised Provincial Planning Statement, 2024 (the “Planning Statement”) and a new Minister Zoning Order (MZO) framework. The Planning Statement, which if adopted, will replace the existing Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 (the “PPS”) and include some policies from A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (the “Growth Plan”). The Growth Plan is proposed to be repealed. The Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods opposes most of the proposed changes.

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Provincial Planning Statement 2024

Ontario Greenbelt

While FUN supports the stated goals of encouraging an increased mix and supply of housing, protecting of the environment, creating jobs and a strong economy, reducing barriers and costs for development, and providing greater predictability, we note that many of the proposed policies pay only lip service to these goals. Several proposed policies undermine the government’s professed commitment to orderly growth management, for example policies such as:

  • loosening environmental standards;
  • further facilitating sprawl by increasing the opportunities for settlement boundary changes;
  • further facilitating sprawl by increasing the opportunities for settlement boundary changes;
  • lowering the protection of employment lands by allowing conversions outside of the municipal review process;

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More Darkness in Ontario’s Democracy

In Canada, after an election first ministers write mandate letters to their cabinet colleagues, laying out deliverables their departments should achieve. Some governments make them public (Trudeau, McGuinty and Wynne in Ontario), but others don’t (Harper, Ford). A newly-elected government traditionally outlines its program in its platform and speech from the throne; mandate letters may be more specific. Even if they are not made public, they can provide direction to the bureaucracy. If made public, they can be used to hold the government accountable.

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Heritage Register Review: Public Information Session

Toronto residents are invited to an online Public Information Session to learn about the City’s Heritage Register Review project. The purpose of the meeting is to share information about the project and answer questions.

Date: Monday, February 26

Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Location: Virtual Meeting

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2024 Ontario Budget Submission

Ontario wild lands - edge of lake

FUN recognizes the significant fiscal challenges facing the Government of Ontario, some representing continuing impacts of the COVID pandemic. We also believe that investing in and maintaining physical, social health and environmental infrastructure, all the while addressing the Climate Emergency are critical to the future wellbeing of all Ontario residents.

However, we are choosing to focus at this time on four matters: the growing Housing Market and Housing Affordability issue, Growing Protected Areas, Save Ontario Place, and Save the Ontario Science Centre.

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Peel’s boundary expansion has not been reversed

urban boundary expansion

Two years ago, hundreds of Peel residents descended on regional council to voice their opposition to a massive urban boundary expansion that would pave the way for 11,000 acres of prime agricultural land and greenspace to be bulldozed for future development.

This summer, those same residents, along with millions across the province, learned the startling truth behind what happened. Doug Ford’s PC government had worked secretly with developers to force urban boundary expansions throughout southern Ontario, compelling towns and cities to bend to their profit-driven policies.

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What third-party audits could tell us about municipal finances — and housing — in Ontario

Construction in Toronto

OPINION: Shedding light on government finances is never a bad idea. Here’s hoping audits will spur a necessary discussion about how Ontario cities raise revenue and from whom.

Over the summer, the Ford government announced the selection of a third-party auditor to investigate the finances of six municipalities — including Toronto — with an eye to clarifying the impacts of its recent housing legislation on city finances.

Update – December 13, 2023 – Ontario cancels municipal audits launched to understand impacts of its housing laws

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PCs reverse Peel dissolution

Mississauga City Centre

The PC government says it will no longer be dissolving the Region of Peel, an abrupt shift from legislation that has created anxiety among residents and frontline staff at the upper level of municipal government.

 It puts an end, for now, to the intense politicking that pitted Mississauga and Brampton council members against one another. 

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Highway 413 updates – battle over environmental assessment continues

Holland Marsh open fields and forest

PCs make another move to greenlight environmentally disastrous highway

After an October Supreme Court ruling found parts of the federal Impact Assessment Act to be unconstitutional, the PC government is doubling down and asking the courts to free its Highway 413 project from having to undergo the rigid environmental assessment the Act requires.

Ontario won’t submit Highway 413 assessment to feds until late 2023

TheFord government is closing in on making the case for its signature Highway 413 project — frozen for more than two years — as it prepares to send Ottawa new justifications for the route.

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