Millions of new housing dollars lost in Mississauga due to flawed Ontario funding: City

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Published February 23, 2024 at 1:36 pm

Ontario housing funding formula is flawed, Mississauga says

Mississauga is unfairly missing out on potentially tens of millions of dollars for new housing because of a flawed funding formula used by the provincial government, city officials say.

In a letter sent this week to Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra, City of Mississauga officials outlined their concerns after Canada’s seventh-largest city was deemed ineligible for the latest round of funding via the province’s Building Faster Fund.

Essentially, the city argues, Mississauga came up empty funding-wise due to an insufficient number of housing starts, a measure it argues is completely out of its control.

The city is now pushing the Ontario government to “revisit how it allocates important housing funding to local municipalities” in hopes it will tweak its funding model.

Mississauga has been clear that cities must be measured on factors they can influence and is encouraging the government to re-think housing starts as a way to measure progress, city officials said in a news release on Friday.

“We’re disappointed that Mississauga residents are losing out on much-needed funding that can help our city deliver the kind of intensification the province is looking for,” said Shari Lichterman, Mississauga’s city manager and chief administrative officer. “The worst part is that we’re losing out on funding despite all of the work we’ve undertaken to grow our city, including streamlining our development and building permit approval processes and expanding housing permissions.

“Right now, we have 12,000 new residential units under construction, 4,000 units under building plan review and an incredible 33,000 new units under site plan review – which is the final stage of our development application review process. We can’t put shovels in the ground, but we’re doing everything we can to make our city a great place to build,” Lichterman added.

In contrast to the situation Mississauga finds itself in with respect to provincial housing funding, Brampton received word today from Premier Doug Ford that it’ll receive $25.5 million from the Ontario government via its Building Faster Fund.

Mississauga acting Mayor Joe Horneck said the city is “using all of the tools” it has to prioritize getting more homes built in answer to the province-wide housing crisis.

“We will continue to address these important issues with the industry experts on our Housing Panel to find innovative solutions that will help us continue to deliver on our housing commitments,” he said.

City officials add Mississauga is committed to helping the province meet its goal of building 1.5 million new homes over 10 years. The city was one of the first municipalities in Ontario to prepare a housing action plan and submit a housing pledge to the province, they note.

Also in its letter to the housing minister, Mississauga suggested consultations be held “on appropriate ways to measure municipalities on our progress.”

Some of the city’s concerns include:

  • housing starts are counted when the building’s foundation is finished. In a highrise, this could be many months, often years, after the city issues a building permit
  • the city says it has limited control over market forces and the business and financial decisions of the development and building industry, who determine when to start construction
  • development and construction activity is slowing due to a wide variety of factors outside of the city’s control such as interest rates, labour shortages, cost of materials and market/investor demand
  • cities are at different stages of growth and development, which makes comparing housing starts problematic. Mississauga is no longer building low-rise subdivisions like other GTA cities which are much faster and simpler to build than complex highrise towers

 

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