BILD: approval times should be an election issue


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If it takes longer than expected to obtain the necessary approvals, a project is delayed and incurs additional costs

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Addressing the housing supply and affordability challenge in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Ontario is a complex task with no easy solutions.

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Ahead of the October 24 municipal elections, residents can discuss an important issue with candidates: housing approvals. What municipal candidates have to say on the subject is important, because speeding up approval times could help our region and our province build more homes, faster.

The construction of a new house, or a new housing project, cannot begin without the required approvals and permits from the municipality.

If it takes longer than expected to obtain the necessary approvals, the project is delayed and incurs additional costs. Multiply these effects by hundreds, if not thousands, of projects in the region, and you will find that municipal approvals can be a direct lever on housing supply and affordability.

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from Ontario Town Planning Act and related regulations outline the timelines within which municipalities must process various types of approval applications and issue decisions to applicants.

In 2020, BILD commissioned Altus Group to conduct a study measuring approval times in 18 municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area. The study found that few, if any, municipalities were meeting the required timelines, and in some cases the delays could be measured in years, not months.

A complementary study conducted by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association found that municipalities in the GTA lag far behind municipalities in other provinces. The delays have meant much-needed supplies have been slow to come to market, and homebuyers have incurred tens of thousands of dollars in additional costs.

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In August, the Building Industry and Land Development Association and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association released a five-point plan for provincial and municipal governments to speed up the delivery of new homes, reduce by new owners and to ensure that new communities have the infrastructure they need to support growth.

The first point was to “make homes more affordable by speeding up approval times and eliminating red tape. … Each year a municipality delays an approval decision costs homebuyers an additional $36,000 for a typical low-rise home and an additional $26,000 for a typical high-rise apartment.

All of us — voters, industry, municipal governments, the provincial government and other regulators — must take concerted action to boldly address housing supply and affordability.

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This is the only way to solve the housing problems in our region and our province, to ensure our economic competitiveness and to address the generational inequalities caused by our housing crisis.

Ahead of the October 24 municipal elections, ask your candidates what they will do to improve housing approval times.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA. For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, @bildgta, or visit

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