Burlington has the worst rate of home building in Ontario


Published June 17, 2024 at 3:17 pm

Burlington Ontario housing starts construction

The measuring stick used to determine the rate of home building in Ontario again shows Burlington sits at the bottom.

At a 3 per cent rate, Burlington has just 67 housing starts in 2024 as it tries to reach a mandated goal of 2,417 by the end of the year.

As the name implies, housing starts are those where construction has commenced. It is the guideline the Ontario government uses to track housing progress.

Haldimand County, New Tecumseth and Whitchurch-Stouffville are also at a 3 per cent building rate.

By comparison, Oakville is at 71 per cent of meeting its goal and Milton at 21 per cent. Hamilton is at 15 per cent and Toronto at 34 per cent.

The numbers are based on the most recent data released by the Province of Ontario on June 12.

While other towns and cities in Ontario have been able to cash in on their housing programs, Burlington’s failure has cost the City millions of dollars in grants that Queen’s Park has been doling out to municipalities that have been able to achieve their targets.

The measuring tool used to track home building in Ontario — housing starts — has been criticized by several local politicians in the province because it only counts housing units that have been started and not those approved, currently under construction, or completed.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Marianne Meed Ward has repeatedly pointed out that the system penalizes municipalities for circumstances beyond their control.

She says projects are being approved but developers are not building them.

Burlington has committed to adding 29,000 new homes by 2031 but has reached only 779 since 2022 according to the province’s guidelines.

Burlington’s own data shows 45,599 housing units are in the pipeline to be built. Broken down, 22,808 are in the pre-application stage from developers while 22,791 units are “in the system” and on their way to meeting building approvals.

“The approval process sits with the municipality. We don’t build houses, we don’t pour foundations (housing starts), that’s on the development industry,” the mayor has said in the past.

Still, the Province is sticking with its guidelines which means Burlington will continue to miss out on additional funding that could go towards supplying local infrastructure.

Last year Premier Doug Ford called out Burlington on its poor building performance calling it “unacceptable” and saying that the City had to do more to get homes built.

Builders who have spoken to inhalton.com say several factors account for the slow pace of building including the costs, a declining workforce, and the inflexibility at times of Burlington to approve projects. Burlington officials have argued that controls are in place to prevent developers from creating projects that are unsuitable for neighbourhoods.


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