Halton Hills sits at the bottom for housing starts in Ontario

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Published February 23, 2024 at 2:58 pm

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Halton Hills is not building homes fast enough to meet the targets demanded by Queen’s Park.

The latest Ontario government data shows that Halton Hills has the lowest rate of housing starts in Ontario, a number that could lead to the loss of millions of dollars in grants.

While the Province has set a housing goal of 9,500 homes to be built in Halton Hills by 2031, the latest data shows the current rate of home building is lagging.

The data, released on Feb. 22, points to 2023 figures that show the Town recorded just 144 housing starts, falling short of the 696 required. Sitting at 21 per cent, this start rate falls short of the 80 per cent required to access the Building Faster Fund, money which the Ontario government is using as an incentive for municipalities to encourage housing development.

The rate has Halton Hills sitting at the bottom of the list of 50 Ontario municipalities that have been given housing targets.

However, much like other municipalities, Halton Hills has argued that housing starts don’t paint an accurate picture. The starts only indicate the number of projects started (in other words, foundations poured) by builders and don’t take into consideration work that is already ongoing, completions or the number of permits issued that have not been acted upon.

As well, Halton Hills has pointed out it has unique challenges.

Although officials did not want to be interviewed for this story, the Town did release a statement outlining its position:

“The Town previously advised the Province that we are faced with short-run challenges over the next two-three years in meeting our housing target on an annualized basis. These challenges include the timing for the delivery of lake-based water and wastewater servicing to Georgetown and the resolution of the Ontario Land Tribunal appeals of the individual “Vision Georgetown” development applications. The Town remains committed to the 9,500 Housing Target by 2031 and through our Housing Pledge has identified several initiatives to assist in the delivery of housing supply.”

The Province has not said if municipalities that fail to reach the targets will be totally cut off from the funding but Premier Doug Ford has insisted the criteria for funding won’t change.

However, the government’s steadfast approach has been increasingly under pressure.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, joining other Ontario mayors on TVO’s Agenda on Tuesday night (Feb. 21), pointed out to the television audience the flaws in the current system that penalizes municipalities for a situation beyond its control.

“We are being measured on foundations poured and municipalities don’t pour foundations,” Meed Ward said calling the metrics that are being used “wildly inaccurate”.

Also, the City of Mississauga today (Feb. 23) publicly urged the Province to revisit how it allocates housing funding to local municipalities, calling the current system unfair.

A sign the Provincial government may move the measuring stick came today when the City of Brampton received $25.5 million from the Building Faster fund for achieving 85 per cent of the yearly goal even though last month that number stood at 35 per cent — an unlikely 142 per cent increase — even though just 26 new housing starts were recorded during that one-month period.

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