London’s strategy for new housing targets

The roadmap to creating 47,000 new housing units in London, Ont. is coming into focus.

On Wednesday, city hall released a report, titled “Targeted Actions to Increase London’s Housing Supply,” that aims to support council’s pledge to meet the provincially assigned housing targets as part of the commitment for 1.5 million new homes in Ontario by 2031.

“It’s taking all of those different pieces that a bunch of different folks have been working on and brings it together so council can see it as a whole,” explained Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis.

“We have a partnership where we can try to collaborate to get that done collectively,” said Jared Zaifman of the London Home Builders’ Association. “It’s seen as a collective goal [and] that is wonderful to see.”

The report is the result of 12 meetings by the Housing Supply Reference Group that is a collaborative mix of city staff and the development industry.

“The Targeted Actions document identifies the actions, timelines, development tracking and reporting methods associated with different categories of housing units across various development application processes,” reads an update to councils Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee (SPPC).

Mike Wallace of the London Development Institute said the local population and demand for housing continues to grow, “We are going to see a tremendous amount of demand and growth in London because it’s such a great place to live.”

Construction for new housing in southwest London, seen on April 10, 2024. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London)

One year into London’s housing pledge of 47,000 units, progress is difficult to clearly quantify.

The mayor has been critical that the province only counts completed units— not municipal approvals.

City hall set a record last year with 5,300 housing permissions, but only achieved 52 per cent of its year one target of 3,447 units completed.

Wallace believes there is time to get on track.

“The target is achievable with the right processes in place— and the political will to make it happen,” he said.

He pointed to the role city hall can play along with developers.

“There’s opportunity to grow both through intensification, but also with a change the [urban] growth boundary to accommodate the next 25 years of growth,” Wallace added.

Zaifman said demand for housing remains high— but affordability must be addressed to ensure Londoners can purchase homes.

“Especially at the federal level, there are things which could really make a difference to affordability,” he suggested. “Potentially, increasing the amortization on new homes from 25 to 30 years,”

Lewis also sees a role for senior governments, “Interest rates, HST on new home sales versus HST on resales not being the same. [Those] are the kind of things that are in this report.”

A council committee will consider endorsing the housing strategy at a meeting on April 16.

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