OAA Reviewing Ontario’s New Housing Legislation

According to a release from the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), housing affordability remains one of the biggest challenges in the province, and association acknowledges that the provincial government is touting Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, as a tool to ensure cities and towns can grow with a mix of housing typologies to meet the diverse needs of all Ontarians. In that spirit, the OAA is now examining the proposed housing legislation in great detail.

The OAA reports that it is delving deeper into the Bill 23 and is also exploring the possibilities of unintended consequences from the proposed legislation. The Association plans to deliver a submission to the provincial government, including further recommendations to protect the public interest with respect to both housing affordability and climate action.

“For more than a decade, we have been calling for thoughtful changes to the planning approval process that would increase our housing supply, but also maintain quality and minimize sprawl into green spaces,” says OAA President Susan Speigel, a Toronto-based architect.

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According to the association, it has long maintained there should be residential intensification in existing built-up areas. The OAA continues, “This not only lowers costs for new homeowners by leveraging in-place infrastructure, but also offers more opportunities for Ontarians to be in their desired neighbourhood, whether they are multi-generational families, couples or single homeowners, or those aging in place. However, legislation that supports intensification should not come at the expense of existing environmental protections, such as the Toronto Green Standard and other nascent municipal green standards that aim to adopt higher tiers of the new 2020 National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB).”

“Increasing options for housing typologies to include missing-middle options can help mitigate the adverse effects of the built environment encroaching on green spaces throughout Ontario. Through its new five-year strategic plan, the OAA has positioned “Climate Action” as an important overriding theme. Members of Ontario’s architecture profession have demonstrated that achieving zero emission and low-carbon buildings are excellent investments that guarantee future energy savings, assist with long-term electrical system demand reduction and management, and can be capital cost neutral. New homes must take climate action into account.”

The OAA reports that in 2018, it commissioned a housing affordability study from SvN Architects + Planners Inc. This study found that increasing density, optimizing zoning potential, and matching municipal density targets to those set out in the 2017 Provincial Growth Plan positions the province to meet the housing demand of 1.5 million people in Ontario’s cities over the next 25 years.

The OAA provides links below offer further resources on this important topic:

Association of Municipalities of Ontario worries about housing bill impact

Tory vows to use strong mayor powers to get new housing division operating fast

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