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Tory to streamline housing approval process and will use ‘strong mayor powers’

Click to play video: 'Toronto mayor concerned about provincial housing plan over budget burdens'
Toronto mayor concerned about provincial housing plan over budget burdens
WATCH ABOVE: Toronto Mayor John Tory’s first post-election announcement took aim at the city’s need for more housing. But John Tory quickly shifted his attention to the province, expressing concerns about Ontario’s plan to eliminate a key revenue tool needed to fund critical infrastructure. Matthew Bingley reports. – Oct 26, 2022

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he wants a new division that will streamline housing approval process to be up and running by early 2023.

Tory, who was just re-elected mayor for a third term, said senior staff is working to create this new “development and growth division” that he said will get more homes built faster by cutting red tape and speeding up approval times.

Tory also said he will also be “using the strong mayor powers to implement it.”

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government recently passed a law giving mayors of Toronto and Ottawa veto power over bylaws that conflict with provincial priorities like housing. “Strong mayors powers” would allow the mayors of those two cities to override council approval of a bylaw.

The strong mayor powers may or may not be “necessary” Tory added but that he will not hesitate to use them to make the structural changes to administration as quickly as possible.

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“We’re in a housing crisis in Canada, and that is being felt acutely here in the City of Toronto,” Tory told reporters on Wednesday.

“This plan which represents a fundamental re-think of our bureaucracy will be a major contributor to ensuring that development applications move as efficiently as possible through our system without sacrificing necessary diligence,” Tory said.

Read more: Ontario will need 1.5M homes built in next decade with half in Peel, York and Toronto: report

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Tory said the creation of the new division is a key point of a five-point housing plan that was part of his platform during the election campaign.

He said although this won’t solve the housing crisis overnight that this division will be a “significant step forward to address it. We need to build more homes and we need to build them faster.”

As the City works to define the new division, there is still some uncertainty over the finer details, including heritage designations and climate commitments.

Tory said preliminary estimates of the cost to the City over the elimination of development fees, is in the hundreds of millions of dollars and that the City already has budget concerns.

He said it’s just not fair to change legislation and say it will be paid for with someone else’s money as there needs to be another means of funding.

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— With files from Global News’ Matthew Bingley & The Canadian Press

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