Flawed housing numbers cost Burlington millions in grant money, mayor says

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Published February 21, 2024 at 11:18 am

housing

Burlington is missing out on millions of dollars in funding because of the measuring stick used to determine how homes are built.

Speaking on an edition of TVO’s Agenda last night, Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said Ontario’s Building Faster Fund unfairly penalizes Burlington by tying the money to housing starts, a metric that is beyond the City’s control.

“We are being measured on foundations poured and municipalities don’t pour foundations, that’s the Canada Morgage and Housing Corporations (CMHC) way of measuring housing starts, but it is also wildly inaccurate so not only is it the wrong metric in which to judge municipalities…but there is real money attached to this,” the mayor told host Steve Paikin.

The latest Provincial government numbers show there were only 300 housing starts in Burlington in 2023, far below the 2,127 target set by Queen’s Park for Burlington to meet its mandated goal of building 29,000 homes by 2031. Based on the data, Burlington sits at a 14 per cent success rate while 80 per cent is required to qualify for the funding.

“We will not get the funding we need in Burlington because of that metric,” said Meed Ward pointing out that CMHC and the Province have not budged on the numbers despite lobbying efforts.

The mayor said Burlington, and other municipalities in Ontario, should instead be judged on the number of permits issued.

“The approval process sits with the municipality. We don’t build houses, we don’t pour foundations (housing starts), that’s on the development industry,” she said.

Meed Ward went on to say that 4,000 housing units have been issued permits in Burlington but have not been acted on by developers. As well, she said 41,000 other units are currently “in the pipeline” as builders consider new projects.

Those numbers, combined with the data that shows 10,000 units are currently under construction, give the mayor hope that targets will be reached.

The Building Faster Fund was set up by the Provincial government to provide up to $400 million in grants for those municipalities that reach 80 per cent of their annual housing start targets. The majority of municipalities in Ontario have not met their targets.

 

 

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