London’s housing crisis demands 47,000 new homes — 40 per cent are approved but still unbuilt
An aggressive plan to address London, Ont.’s housing crisis has been unveiled by city hall, but meeting the construction targets will require doing things differently.
The provincial government’s Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, set a goal to add 1.5 million residential units in Ontario by 2031.
London’s assigned share is 47,000 residential units.
Mayor Josh Morgan told CTV News London that the provincially assigned housing target is reasonable, “We will still be building and growing the city in the way that Londoners have asked us to build and grow this city.”
A new report going to council’s Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee outlines a plan called London’s Housing Supply Action Plan.
“This whole process is about shared accountability,” explained Morgan. “The province has changes that it has to make, the municipality has processes it needs to speed up, and permissions it needs to give, but the development community at the end of the day are actually responsible for building the houses.”
London, Ont.'s Housing Supply Action Plan. (Source: City of London)In the near-term, 40 per cent of the housing target await shovels in the ground.
The report identifies 18,513 residential units that are yet to be built by developers despite, “having advanced through or are in the latter stages of planning act processes and are available for development over the short-term.”
“Part of this this process is digging into those barriers. What is stopping those from coming to fruition? How are we going to ensure that we have that head start on our target?” Morgan asked rhetorically.
Since “greenfield developments” can take a decade or more from application to build-out, the report recommended focusing on, “lands where the substantial cost of servicing has already been invested should be prioritized for development.”
The London Plan includes a 45 per cent intensification target regarding new development and identifies the downtown, transit villages, and rapid transit corridors as areas that can support significant intensification.
Londoners have had little time to consider the strategy that will guide residential growth for almost a decade.
Although the committee’s agenda was posted to the city website on Feb. 1, the Housing Supply Action Plan wasn’t posted until Feb. 6.
The committee meeting will be held just a day later, on Feb. 7 at 4 p.m.
The London Development Institute, a lobbying organization representing most of the area’s largest developers, has already requested delegation status to speak at the meeting.
London, Ont.'s Housing Supply Action Plan. (Source: City of London)The mayor said it was the provincial direction on Oct. 25 that set a March 1 deadline to complete a municipal housing pledge, “It’s unfortunate that we can’t have more lead time on this, but some of these things are beyond our control, because the directions are set by the province.”
Morgan said Londoners unable to meet the tight deadline can still contact their councillor before next week’s council meeting finalizes Tuesday’s decision.
The three pillars in London’s Housing Supply Action Plan are:
- Financial supports
- Enterprise-wide resources
- Shared accountability
Within those pillars, nine actions will be taken:
- Developing areas primed for residential development
- Promoting gentle intensification in neighborhoods
- Facilitating intensification in priority areas and across the city
- Improving application processes
- Growth management
- Development charges and servicing
- Using community improvement plans to incentivize affordable housing development
- Reusing vacant commercial and office spaces in the core area
- Municipal affordable housing development
London’s housing plan and pledge must be sent to Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing by March.
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