25 October 2023 - The Waterloo Region Home Builders' Association (WRHBA) is disheartened and frankly confused by the Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Hon. Paul Calandra's October 21st announcement, calling it a significant setback in addressing housing affordability and choice for thousands of consumers aspiring to be new homeowners and future residents of Waterloo Region.
The Minister's announcement to introduce legislation that, if approved, will rescind the Provincial modifications to the Region of Waterloo Official Plan will further erode housing affordability for all, particularly first-time home buyers. It can take a decade or more to bring a new housing supply to the market, and a stable, consistent housing policy is crucial.
Abrupt reversals, such as the one announced Monday, create an atmosphere of uncertainty for builders and developers and jeopardize certain essential housing projects. The result being a reduced housing inventory and a further deepening of the housing crisis. Provincially approved official plans were subject to an extensive and transparent public and stakeholder consultation process, which included postings to the Environmental Registry of Ontario. Adjustments made to the approved plans by the Provincial government were made to uphold the provinces' own objectives for increased housing supply, choice, and balanced growth. Repealing these modifications will put regional and municipal decision-making relative to new development into a state of confusion and uncertainty. The repercussions of this unfortunate decision will effectively delay the addition of new housing and employment opportunities over the next decade.
The WRHBA was diligently involved and responsible in its efforts of reviewing and providing recommendations to the Waterloo Region Official Plan review process. Our input helped create a balanced approach that protects the environment for future generations while at the same time providing options to the cities of Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo to meeting their provincial housing pledges, which amount to a combined 70,000 units by 2031. The population of Waterloo Region is expected to grow to 923,000 people by 2051 and we are disheartened and deeply concerned for the thousands of families looking for a place to call home.
Over the next 45 days, WRHBA members will work with the Region of Waterloo and the area municipalities to demonstrate that the correct planning justifications for the decisions were made. We believe undertaking this short-term review process will reveal that these decisions were appropriate and necessary for confronting our province’s housing crisis. Further delay will only prevent badly needed supply and housing choice from entering the marketplace, so we urge all stakeholders to recognize the urgency of this effort and to work quickly and cooperatively.