The Provincial Government has moved recently to introduce new legislation aimed at alleviating housing shortages in Ontario and stabilizing the cost of entry to our housing market.
Bill 109, or the “More Homes for Everyone Act, 2022”, aims to ease financial pressures on homebuyers by acting to restrict the activities of real estate speculators, curbing predatory development practices, and working with municipal authorities to reduce the amount of red tape which restricts the construction of new housing units of all varieties.
Spiraling housing prices have become a concern for more and more Ontario residents ever since the onset of the pandemic, and governments at every level have taken notice and started to implement new measures to address affordability. Bill 109, if passed and combined with existing federal actions (including the Bank of Canada’s program to steadily increase interest rates over the coming year), is anticipated to stabilize an overheated Ontario housing market – something we’ve already seen signs of here in Waterloo Region since the beginning of spring.
Here’s a breakdown of what the Ontario government is proposing, according to the plan available in full on the government’s website:
- Increasing the non-resident speculation tax rate to 20 per cent, expanding the tax beyond the Greater Golden Horseshoe to apply provincewide and closing loopholes to fight tax avoidance, effective March 30, 2022. The tax applies to homes purchased anywhere in Ontario by foreign nationals, foreign corporations, or taxable trustees.
- Working with municipalities to identify and enhance measures that will crack down on land speculation and protect home buyers. This is in response to feedback the province solicited from municipalities regarding projects that are approved by the municipality, but unbuilt by the developer.
- Strengthening consumer protections for purchasers of new homes by doubling fines and extending building license suspensions to address unethical conduct by developers, while ensuring penalties for cancelled projects are aligned with the impact on homebuyers. The government is also proposing to enable Tarion to extend warranties on unfinished items in a new home.
- Supporting municipalities with resources, tools, and standards to provide timely review and adjudication processes by both extending legislated timelines for decisions while focusing the decision-making process.
- Creating a new tool specifically designed to accelerate planning processes for municipalities. The Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator would help municipalities expedite approvals for housing and community infrastructure, like hospitals and community centres, with clear requirements for both consultation and public notice. The tool could not be used in the Greenbelt, maintaining the government’s commitment to protecting this valued area.
- Investing more than $19 million to help the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) and the Landlord and Tenant Board to reduce their backlogs. This funding will enable the tribunals to appoint new adjudicators, have resources on hand for mediation, and resolve land use planning and tenant and landlord disputes more quickly. This will also allow the OLT to expand their digital offerings to further enhance efficiency and provide more e-services.
- Conducting consultation on the concept of a multi-generational community, which will begin the process of implementing “missing middle” housing policies that will work to implement gentle density and multi-generational homes on the ground across different types of municipalities.
- Making it easier to build more community housing by making better use of provincially owned lands for non-profit housing providers. To preserve the existing stock of community housing and modernize the system for those who depend on it, the government has established a new regulatory framework under the Community Housing Renewal Strategy that encourages housing providers to stay in the system and help vulnerable Ontarians get back on their feet.
Debbie Tsintaris is a LOCAL REALTOR® in the Waterloo Region offering expert real estate services in Waterloo and surrounding areas in Southwestern Ontario.