London Mayor Josh Morgan isn’t accusing the provincial government of moving the goal posts for municipal housing targets— he believes their using the wrong goal posts.
A progress report on London’s pledge to create 47,000 new residential units by 2031 includes the provinces evaluation that city hall has only achieved 37 per cent of its 2023 target so far— declaring the target “not met.”
Specifically, the province set this year’s housing target at 3,447 units, but only recognized 1,260 housing starts.
The mayor rejects the failing grade.
Morgan telling council’s Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee, “There are some fairly serious concerns that we are being judged on something that we have no control over.”
The mayor emphasizes that the province only counted the number of new housing starts in the city.
However, the municipal government can only rezone properties and prepare building permits. It cannot compel developers to put shovels in the ground.
Only municipalities that meet or exceed annual housing targets can tap into a $1.2 billion incentive fund announced by Premier Doug Ford in August.
“If the (building) permits don’t get pulled, we are not going to be able to access critical infrastructure funding,” Morgan worries.
In 2022, council approved 4,097 new housing units, but developers only sought building permits to begin work on 2,598 before year’s end.
(Source: City of London)The London Development Institute (LDI) represents the city’s largest developers.
Executive Director Mike Wallace claims high interest rates are impacting the number of residential projects breaking ground.
“City council, city staff, or us, we don’t drive (housing starts). It’s the market that drives it, it’s the public purchasing homes that drives it,” Wallace said to council.
“By the end of June this year, the number of (housing) units submitted for building permits had dropped to 58 per cent below the same time period in 2022,” the mayor reported.
London is not alone in failing to meet its target.
Only two of Ontario’s 20 largest municipalities are on pace to meet or exceed their annual target.
Ontario’s Big City Mayor’s (OBCM) are pushing for evaluation criteria based on municipal approvals rather than housing starts.
Mayor Morgan is Vice Chair of OBCM, “The province was open to discussing different ways of thinking about this, although with no commitment or timeline.”
Earlier this year, municipalities were assigned housing targets by the provincial government as a key component of Ontario’s plan to create 1.5 million new homes by 2031.