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Ontario to make it easier to build secondary suites, rental housing

TORONTO — Ontario is planning to make it easier to build secondary suites and rental housing as part of efforts to increase supply, which the government hopes will make homes more affordable.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark is tabling legislation Thursday that includes a host of changes aimed at improving speed and costs in creating housing, as well as promoting a mix of housing types.

“We will address the ‘missing middle’ shortage by making it easier to build different types of housing — from single, detached homes, to townhouses, to mid-rise rental apartments, second units and family-size condos,” he said.

“We need to encourage builders to build the types of housing people actually need.”

The government is proposing to eliminate a charge for creating a second suite in new homes and allow homeowners to create units above garages or in laneways.

Charges for building rental and not-for-profit housing would be deferred, allowing the developer to pay in instalments over five years. The municipality would be able to charge interest.

As well, the government said it will remove the requirement for certain new homes to include electric vehicle charging stations, in order to reduce costs.

The Local Planning and Appeal Tribunal, which replaced the Ontario Municipal Board, would also be given more powers to manage and decide cases in order to reduce delays.

The former Liberal government overhauled the independent tribunal that adjudicates planning and development disputes, giving it less power to overturn local government decisions.

Under the Progressive Conservative government’s proposed changes, the LPAT would be able to hear appeals with fresh evidence for major planning decisions and make any decision that a municipality could have made.

Clark said the changes will reduce delays, along with adding more adjudicators. A backlog of cases has tied up about 100,000 units in Toronto alone, he said.

The legislation will also contain changes to the Cannabis Control Act to close what the government called a loophole that currently prohibits police from shutting down illegal dispensaries if the premises are being used as a residence. Officials said government has heard of cases in which people put bunk beds in a dispensary to make it look like a residential unit.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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