Ontario expanding strong mayor powers to 21 more municipalities to meet housing targets

By Amanda Jerome

Law360 Canada (August 21, 2023, 1:07 PM EDT) -- In an effort to build more homes, the Ontario government is expanding strong mayor powers to “21 more municipalities” and launching a $1.2-billion fund to provide “significant new funding based on performance against provincial housing targets.”

According to a government release, issued Aug. 21, the Building Faster Fund is a three-year program which will provide “$400 million in new annual funding for three years to municipalities that are on target to meet provincial housing targets by 2031.”

“Municipalities that reach 80 per cent of their annual target each year will become eligible for funding based on their share of the overall goal of 1.5 million homes. Municipalities that exceed their target will receive a bonus on top of their allocation,” the release explained.

Premier Doug Ford

Premier Doug Ford

The expansion of strong mayor powers is to “ensure more municipalities have the tools needed to build homes and to expand eligibility for the Building Faster Fund …”

According to the release, the expansion of powers will be given to municipalities “projected to have populations of 50,000 or larger by 2031 that commit to meeting their provincial targets.”

“The expansion of strong mayor powers will take effect on October 31, 2023,” the release explained, noting that this expansion is “in addition to the 28 municipalities that already have strong mayor powers, having committed to targets through municipal housing pledges.”

“Once a housing pledge is received from the head of council, these municipalities will also become eligible for and will have access to the Building Faster Fund,” the release added.

“With these new measures, we’re supporting municipalities and giving them the tools they need to build more homes faster to tackle the affordability crisis that’s pricing too many people, especially young families and newcomers, out of the dream of home ownership,” said Premier Doug Ford.

“We have two choices: We can sit back and ignore the crisis, or we can build more homes. Our government is choosing to build homes,” he added in a statement.

The release noted that funding from the Building Faster Fund can “be directed toward housing-enabling infrastructure and other related costs that support community growth.”

“Eligible expenses will be determined following consultations between the province, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the City of Toronto and the Housing Supply Action Plan Implementation Team. A portion of the overall funding will also be allocated to single and lower tier municipalities that have not been assigned a housing target, including small, rural and northern communities, in order to address their unique needs, following municipal consultations,” the release added.

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark said, “there is an urgent need to get more homes built quickly across Ontario.”

“By providing additional financial resources to our municipal partners as well as strong mayor powers to help speed up the approvals process, our government is acting decisively to tackle Ontario’s housing supply crisis and build the homes our residents need and deserve,” he added in a statement.

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for Law360 Canada, please contact Amanda Jerome at Amanda.Jerome@lexisnexis.ca or 416-524-2152.