Ford government convenes forum as work begins on next round of housing legislation

Paul Calandra, Ontario minister of municipal affairs and housing, takes questions from journalists after tabling a bill to return parcels of land to Greenbelt, at Queen's Park in Toronto on Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

The Ford government will gather housing sector stakeholders in Toronto on Monday to get feedback about upcoming legislation to target the housing crisis, Global News has learned.

The 2023 Housing Forum will run all day in Toronto, with various roundtable discussions and a short presentation from Housing Minister Paul Calandra.

One source with knowledge of the event told Global News it was partly designed to introduce the new minister to stakeholders, including representatives from the development and municipal sectors. Calandra replaced Steve Clark as Ontario’s housing minister after the latter resigned at the height of the Greenbelt scandal.

The source said the forum would focus on recommendations from Ontario’s Housing Taskforce. Feedback and discussions from Monday’s event will feed into Ontario’s next Housing Supply Action Plan, legislation that is expected to be tabled sometime in the spring.

The Ford government asked the Housing Taskforce to write a report with suggestions on how to fix the province’s housing issues in early 2022. It made 74 recommendations, including setting a goal of 1.5 million homes, a promise the Progressive Conservative Party made as part of its election platform and has become a central policy for its second term.

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According to the government’s website, 23 of the 74 recommendations have been completed and 14 are underway.

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An agenda for the Housing Forum, obtained by Global News, shows Calandra will speak, along with the head of Infrastructure Ontario and Associate Minister of Housing Rob Flack.

The event will also include several roundtable discussions on topics such as inclusive housing, modular housing and missing-middle homes.

Those invited to the event include municipal representatives, developer associations, non-profits and modular housing builders, sources said. They also said there would be some federal representation.

The government is in the midst of an attempt to reset its housing agenda after a summer of scandal dominated by the Greenbelt.

Two parliamentary watchdog reports found the province’s decision to swap 7,400 acres of protected land out of the Greenbelt to allow homebuilding had benefitted a few developers. The policy was reversed by Premier Doug Ford in September after losing two cabinet ministers and several senior staffers in the backlash.

When Calandra came in as housing minister, he said he would work to review all the decisions his predecessor had made. He also reversed a decision to expand urban boundaries in some cities and said he was undertaking a careful review of every Minister’s Zoning Order handed out over the past few years.

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While the government is working to reset the perception of its housing plans, it is also preparing the next round of changes to development and housing legislation.

Another source told Global News they expect the housing event to be the major consultation opportunity before work begins in earnest on the next round of housing legislation.

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