A major housing plan aimed at speeding up development timelines and construction in Ontario communities has been given royal assent.Photo: Brandon / Adobe Stock

A major housing bill aimed at speeding up development timelines and boosting housing supply in Ontario through “near-term solutions and long-term commitments,” has been given royal assent.

On Thursday, April 14th, the Ontario government announced via a press release that it had received royal assent for legislation to support its More Homes for Everyone plan, which was introduced in late March at Queen’s Park. The plan is based on the Ontario-Municipal Housing Summit, input from municipalities and the public, as well as the 55 recommendations that came from the province’s Housing Affordability Task Force, which were released in February.

Royal assent occurs when a bill is passed by the Legislative Assembly after its third reading. The Lieutenant Governor assents to the bill on behalf of the Queen by signing it, after which the bill is enacted and becomes a statute.

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“With the passage of the More Homes for Everyone Act, our government is taking the next step in our long-term plan to deliver on the Housing Affordability Task Force’s report, and help more Ontarians realize the dream of home ownership,” said Steve Clark, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in the release.

“But there is still more work to be done. As we continue to collaborate with our municipal and industry partners, our government commits to a housing supply action plan every year over four years to deliver gentle density and multi-generational homes in communities across our province,” he added.

Major components of the More Homes for Everyone plan include measures to crack down on land speculation and “protect home buyers,” as well as strengthening consumer protections for new home buyers. Last month, Ontario announced that it could be clamping down on unethical developer behaviour by doubling fines and extending building license suspensions. The province also intends to enable Tarion to extend warranties on unfinished items in a new home. To manage market speculation, the province recently increased the Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) rate to 20 per cent and expanded coverage across Ontario.

The More Homes for Everyone plan details support for municipal adjudication processes by building upon the $350 million investment through the Streamline Development Approvals Fund, Municipal Modernization Program and Audit and Accountability Fund. This would allow local governments to modernize municipal services and identify potential savings. A “new tool,” called the Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator, would be introduced to speed up municipal planning processes.

Starting January 1st, 2023, the More Homes for Everyone plan would introduce an application refund schedule for site plan applications. Applicants who do not receive approval of their application within specific time frames would have their application fees refunded through a phased system, receiving a 50 per cent refund within 60 days up to a total refund by 120 days.

The provincial plan also details changes to the Building Code, such as the allowance of 12-storey mass timber buildings, the streamlining of modular multi-unit residential building approvals and allowing tenants to move into the lower floors of under-construction super-tall buildings earlier.

Until April 29th, Ontario says that it is consulting with the public, municipalities and stakeholders to develop recommendations on delivering gentle density housing and supporting multi-generational communities.

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