More and more, housing is coming up in discussions with employers. How can they build a productive workforce when finding housing can be a barrier to hiring? What does it mean if young families and first time homebuyers can’t afford to put down roots in the city? If these families are pushed into the rural areas, what are the impacts on infrastructure and other socio-economic factors such as education and transportation?
When new subdivisions come online (there are a few in the hopper with the City and a number of townships) what are the impacts on roads, tax base, and other basic infrastructure etc? Will people be able to move about with ease to their employment?
What are the space requirements and how do those requirements match up to the Province’s growth plan?
In response to the situation, the Government of Ontario has introduced Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan. The plan will introduce 16 measures targeted at addressing both the supply and demand side of the housing market.
“The Plan covers a wide range of housing issues, and these actions run in concert with numerous steps already taken,” says Ben vanVeen, Realtor, Century 21 United Realty and Treasurer of the Chamber Board of Directors. “I, along with many others, will have to wait to see if they create a more stable environment for renters, buyers, and sellers alike."
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has provided a brief overview of some of the more substantial policy measures introduced as part of the plan.
Actions to Address Demand for Housing
Implement a new 15 percent Non-Resident Speculation tax (NRST) on the price of homes purchased by non citizens or permanent residents of Canada or by foreign corporation.
Actions to Protect Renters
Expand rent control to all private rental units in Ontario, including those built after 1991.
Actions for Municipalities
Introducing a targeted $125 million, five year program to encourage the construction of new rental apartment buildings by rebating a portion of development charges Providing flexibility to municipalities to use property tax tools to enhance development opportunities
- The City of Peterborough is considering phasing out the Vacancy Rebate Program and will be holding consultations on the proposal with the community Creation of a new Housing Supply Team of dedicated provincial employees with a mandate to identify barriers to housing development projects
Working with municipalities to better reflect the needs of a growing Greater Golden Horseshoe through an updated Growth Plan Establish a Housing Advisory Group that will meet quarterly to provide ongoing advice about the state of the housing market and discuss the impact of measures announced in the Fair Housing Plan
Along with the 16 point plan the government also intends to review the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and the legislation governing realtors
The OCC Position
We are encouraged that the government has committed to working with municipalities to remove the barriers to getting more new homes and listings on the market faster. While we acknowledge that the government is taking action to ensure affordability, we believe that measures should target increasing supply and protecting landlords while encouraging new opportunities for growth. We encourage the province to keep a close eye on what impact these new policy measures will have on housing supply going forward.
Peterborough Chamber Position
As is the OCC, we will be keeping an eye on how these measures are working for our communities. We are committed to keeping the Chamber’s 900 members informed about the City of Peterborough’s re-examination of its Vacancy Rebate program and any public consultations or information gathering opportunities. Peterborough is in a unique position to be a great landing place for employers and for new businesses to be created and grow. Housing is a foundation of that equation.