HAMILTON – Ontario’s Minister of Housing, Hon. Paul Calandra announced the province will be winding back changes to Official Plans, including Hamilton’s. The West End Home Builders’ Association (WE HBA) is extremely concerned that this reversal will undermine future housing supply and contribute to a further exodus of young families leaving Hamilton for neighbouring communities. The housing affordability crisis across Southern Ontario has been driven by the lack of housing supply in the face of significant population growth. The provincial decision today to repeal multiple Official Plans including Hamilton will put the entire new housing approval process into a state of confusion, uncertainty and paralysis.
“Any adjustments made to Hamilton’s Official Plan, by the provincial government, was done to uphold the provinces own objectives for increased housing supply, choice and balanced growth. Given the precedents of these reversal decisions today and the uncertainty created with respect to provincial government decision making, why would any business choose to invest in this province?” stated WE HBA CEO Mike Collins-Williams.
WE HBA participated in the review of Hamilton’s Official Plan by submitting our recommendations through the Environmental Registry to the Province of Ontario, focusing on achieving the goals of the provincial Housing Affordability Task Force. It is important to note that the Official Plan submitted by City of Hamilton’s Planning Staff was based on outdated Growth Plan projections that envisioned a rate of housing growth of 3,500 new homes per year, over the next ten years. By the time the Ministry was reviewing Hamilton’s Official Plan, it had become clear that Hamilton’s required rate of new home construction was closer to 5,000 new homes per year to keep pace with Ontario’s population growth. The government of Ontario has committed to building 1.5 million new homes, and the WE HBA submission to the province focused on how the province could realize that objective in Hamilton.
“Our recommendations put forward the need for an Urban Boundary Expansion, as was first recommended by City of Hamilton professional planning staff and their consultants. Our submission also focused on reforms to the City’s intensification processes including an ability to further intensify along all transit corridors and eliminate an arbitrary 30-storey height limit.” stated WE HBA CEO Mike Collins-Williams, adding, “The need for Hamilton’s Urban Boundary Expansion was clearly identified by planning experts as necessary to accommodate population growth and limit the continued displacement of residents to neighbouring communities.”
When presented with that data, City Council hired Watson and Associates as a third-party peer reviewer of the information City Staff had brought forward. This peer review confirmed Hamilton’s need for an Urban Boundary Expansion, which Council chose to ignore. A City of Hamilton Staff report noted that, “Under a ‘no expansion’ scenario, nearly 80% of all new households would need to be accommodated within apartment units, including families” and that “the No Urban Boundary Expansion scenario was not modelled in the Land Needs Assessment because it did not meet Provincial planning policy requirements and was not considered to be good planning”. The Council adopted No Urban Boundary Expansion resulted in an identified shortfall of 60,000 units, and limited intensification opportunities in significant ways including a city-wide height limit of 30-storeys. WE HBA provided recommendations to the Province of Ontario that were similar to the ones provided to the City of Hamilton – recognizing that an urban boundary expansion is necessary, while also eliminating the height limit and significantly reforming Hamilton’s approach to intensification moving forward.
The impacts of the provincial announcement today reversing multiple carefully reviewed Official Plans will be felt for the next decade as this sets the stage for the Provincial Government to fail to meet their own 1.5 million housing target.
About West End HBA: Since 1942, the West End Home Builders’ Association (WE HBA) has been the voice of the local residential construction industry. WE HBA provides an effective voice for the land development, home building and renovation industries, as well as for new home buyers. WE HBA is actively engaged in working to ensure its members’ interests are represented at all three levels of government and advocates on behalf of consumers for choice, affordability, and sufficient supply.
Press Contact: Elena Balaska, Manager of Membership & Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org | (289) 208 1442