Hamilton City Hall Credit: Joey Coleman

Hamilton City Hall says its top five priorities among the 74 recommendations of Ontario’s Housing Affordability Task Force are:

  • 26. Require appellants to promptly seek permission (“leave to appeal”) of the Tribunal and demonstrate that an appeal has merit, relying on evidence and expert reports, before it is accepted;
  • 42. Provide provincial and federal loan guarantees for purpose-built rental, affordable rental and affordable ownership projects.
  • Create an Affordable Housing Trust from a portion of Land Transfer Tax Revenue (i.e., the windfall resulting from property price appreciation) to be used in partnership with developers, non-profits, and municipalities in the creation of more affordable housing units. This Trust should create incentives for projects serving and brought forward by Black- and Indigenous-led developers and marginalized groups.
  • 43) Enable municipalities, subject to adverse external economic events, to withdraw infrastructure allocations from any permitted projects where construction has not been initiated within three years of build permits being issued.
  • 45) Improve funding for colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeships, encourage and incentivize municipalities, unions and employers to provide more on-the-job training and 46) Undertake multi-stakeholder education program to promote skilled trades.

The affordable housing trust was an additional comment in the Task Force’s report, beyond the 74 recommendations. The City wrote recommendations 45 and 46 as it “top 5” ranking.

Ontario’s new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra wrote to Mayor Andrea Horwath on September 15 requesting the City’s response to and opinion regarding the 74 recommendations.

Hamilton’s response was prepared by planning division staff.

The City supports all recommendations with a few exceptions. The City opposes the following recommendations:

“8) Allow “as of right” zoning up to unlimited height and unlimited density in the immediate proximity of individual major transit stations within two years if municipal zoning remains insufficient to meet provincial density targets.”

Hamilton already provides as-of-right permissions for up to 12-storeys along major transit corridors. “The City has completed a modelling exercise to determine if the
provincial density targets can be achieved within our proposed MTSAs under the existing land use permissions. ‘Unlimited’ height and density permissions is not necessary to achieve provincial density targets and would have various implications related to infrastructure.”

“11) Support responsible housing growth on undeveloped land, including outside existing municipal boundaries, by building necessary infrastructure to support higher density housing and complete communities and applying the recommendations of this report to all undeveloped land.”

The City opposes recommendation 11 because it requires the City to build infrastructure to support new housing outside the existing urban boundary.

“12 c) Establish provincewide zoning standards, or prohibitions, for minimum lot sizes, maximum building setbacks, minimum heights, angular planes, shadow rules, front doors, building depth, landscaping, floor space index, and heritage view cones,
and planes; restore pre-2006 site plan exclusions (colour, texture, and type of materials, window details, etc.) to the Planning Act and reduce or eliminate minimum parking requirements.”

The City states it opposes a “one size fits all” approach to land-use planning in Ontario.

“13) Limit municipalities from requesting or hosting additional public meetings beyond those that are required under the Planning Act.”

The City writes, “While public consultation can add time to the approval process, it is important for creating better proposals being better accepted by residents and ultimately resulting in better proposals.”

“17) Requiring municipalities to compensate property owners for loss of property value as a result of heritage designations, based on the principle of best economic use of land”

The City writes, “There are no current Ontario specific studies showing heritage designation has a negative impact on resale value. This action implies highest and best use should be based solely on economics.”

“18) Restore the right of developers to appeal Official Plans and Municipal Comprehensive Reviews.”

The City responds, “It is unclear how this action will increase the supply of housing. Appeals could delay the implementation of policy changes to increase the supply of housing.”

“23) Create a common, province-wide definition of plan of subdivision and standard set of conditions which clarify which may be included; require the use of standard province-wide legal agreements and, where feasible, plans of subdivision.”

The City opposes “one size fits all” planning.

On Recommendations 27 b and c, the proposal to charge a $10,000 fee for third-party appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal and to impose costs upon unsuccessful third parties and municipalities when appealing against a staff recommended project, the City opposes writes this “raises equity concerns in the ability to participate in this process.”

These recommendations were previously rejected by the province due to access to justice concerns.

“32) Waive development charges and parkland cash-in-lieu and charge only modest connection fees for all infill residential projects up to 10 units or for any development where no new material infrastructure will be required.”

The City writes, “This action does not support the principle that growth should pay for growth. There may be merit in certain scenarios if there are public benefits to reducing or
removing these costs.”

“35 b) Except where allocated towards municipality-wide infrastructure projects, require municipalities to spend funds in the neighbourhoods where they were collected. However, where there’s a significant community need in a priority area of the City, allow for specific ward to ward allocation of unspent and unallocated reserves.”

The City writes: “This may unintentionally increase inequity in communities. Most
services are considered on a complete network basis and do not align with ward boundaries. A significant community need would need to be clearly defined.”

“49) Reductions in funding to municipalities that fail to meet provincial housing growth and approval timeline targets”

The City writes: “There is concern tying funding to these targets which are not always within municipal control. The City requires clarification on which funding is being reduced.”

“51) Require municipalities and the provincial government to use the Ministry of Finance population projections as the basis for housing need analysis and related land use requirements.”

The City writes: “This recommendation should be revised to utilize MOF forecasts in the absence of Provincial forecasts so municipalities are not required to redo Municipal Comprehensive Review Land Needs Assessment work.

“C-4) Sell Crown land and reoccupy as a tenant in a higher density building or relocate services outside of major population centres where land is considerably less expensive.”

The City writes: “This does not support planning for intensification within the existing
urban area where infrastructure and services have been planned.”