Mandate letter progress: Municipal Affairs and Housing
The Minister’s response letter to Premier Wynne, outlining the results achieved on key mandate priorities in 2014-15.
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January 11, 2016
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
As Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, I have been working hard to build Ontario up by fostering strong, vibrant and complete communities with abundant greenspace, thriving economies, and a range of housing choices to improve affordable housing and land use planning.
I have travelled across the province to cultivate strong relationships with our municipal partners and learn first-hand how we can achieve these goals together. I am pleased to report on the following accomplishments:
Moving Forward on Social and Affordable Housing
- We joined the federal government to renew the Investment in Affordable Housing Program for another five years. More than $800 million is available for this initiative and this past year we supported the creation of 468 new affordable rental housing units, repairs to nearly 700 affordable housing units, as well as rental and down payment assistance to over 1,950 families and individuals across Ontario.
- We established the Expert Advisory Panel on Homelessness to obtain advice on how to meet our long-term goal of ending homelessness. The panel’s report and recommendations on how to define and measure homelessness were released in fall of 2015. The report will also inform the planned update to the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy.
- We launched and completed a public consultation process to update the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy. We received feedback from clients, advocates and a variety of stakeholders from the affordable housing sector.
Improving Land Use Planning
- The Smart Growth for Our Communities Act (Bill 73) was passed by the Legislative Assembly in December 2015, and introduces reforms to the Planning Act and Development Charges Act to help create more complete communities. The reforms will give communities and citizens a greater, more meaningful say in how their neighbourhoods grow, and improve how they plan and pay for this growth.
Reviewing Provincial Growth and Greenbelt Plans
- We released performance indicators for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and for the Greenbelt Plan. The Growth Plan was created to guide where and how growth should occur in the region; the Greenbelt Plan provides certainty about what must be protected. The indicators will help us determine how effectively we are managing the region. Ontario is starting to see a reduction in sprawl, compared to previous decades.
- The Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review is well underway. We undertook an extensive public consultation and appointed an expert panel chaired by the Honourable David Crombie, which delivered a report with recommendations in fall of 2015. Proposed amendments to the plans will be released for public input this winter.
Reviewing Municipal Governance
- We are reviewing the Municipal Elections Act to help ensure that it meets the needs of communities and provides more choice for municipalities on how municipal elections are run, including the option of ranked ballots in 2018.
- We are also reviewing the Municipal Act, the City of Toronto Act and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act to hear from Ontarians about what is working and what we can continue to improve.
- We are assessing feedback received throughout public consultation and developing recommendations for the government on how to improve these three acts.
Amending the Building Code
- We amended the Building Code to allow wood frame buildings up to six storeys. This can make housing more affordable by reducing the cost of new buildings, while also creating lower air and water pollution, and strengthening our forestry industry.
Reviewing Disaster Response
- We replaced the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program with two new disaster recovery programs for municipalities and citizens. The new programs will be launched in early 2016 and will be faster, fairer and more responsive to the needs of individuals and communities following a natural disaster.
Developing a Community Hubs Policy
- The Strategic Framework and Action Plan was released by the advisory panel led by Karen Pitre. I am pleased to be working with Karen and the panel to help support the Framework and Action Plan, and to work with municipalities to make it easier to establish community hubs.
- We held a Forum on Community Hubs in November 2015 to highlight current and future opportunities to integrate service planning so that Ontarians can access services that meet their needs in an effective and efficient way. We are also holding regional forums throughout the province to solicit input from experts.
I look forward to making progress on these initiatives and other key mandate priorities in the coming year.
By working together in partnership, we will continue to build on the strong relationships needed to be successful in achieving all of our mandate priorities.
|Mandate Letter Commitment||Progress to Date|
|Strengthen and support communities across the province.||
|Working to implement the renewed five-year agreement with the federal government on the Investment in Affordable Housing program. As part of this investment, improve the availability of suitable, affordable housing for seniors and collaborate with the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) to expand supportive housing opportunities for people with mental health and addictions issues.||
|Continuing to work collaboratively with the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, other provinces, territories and municipal partners to call on our federal partners to commit to long-term funding for social and affordable housing.||
|Undertaking a review of the Long-term Affordable Housing Strategy by 2015–16 to support Realizing Our Potential, Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. Conduct this review, in collaboration with the Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Minister of Community and Social Services, MOHLTC and other relevant ministers. This work will include examining the methods available to measure housing needs and related metrics, and ensuring that the strategy reflects current research and best practices and our goal to end homelessness.||
|Undertaking initiatives, as the lead minister for Ontario’s one-window land use planning system, that will balance the need to support economic growth, protect the environment and improve the province’s social well-being.||
|Supporting the development of sustainable, transit-friendly complete communities by amending the Planning Act and the Development Charges Act to improve land use planning and encourage smarter growth. These amendments will ensure respect for local official plans and decision-making, generate more growth-related revenue for transit, require that citizen input is considered in the land use planning process and have the effect of reducing the number of applications to the Ontario Municipal Board.||
|Leading a review of the scope and effectiveness of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Working with the Attorney General and key stakeholders, recommend possible reforms that would improve the OMB’s role within the broader land use planning system.||
|Leading the co-ordinated review of the Growth Plan and the Greenbelt Plans, working closely with the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Minister of Transportation and relevant stakeholders. The goal is to improve alignment across provincial plans and transit investments, and to support planning and development decisions that will create more complete communities across the province, providing options for healthier living and shorter commute times for Ontarians.||
|Working to protect prime agricultural lands. This will be done as part of the co-ordinated reviews of provincial land use plans, working with the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and in consultation with farmers, municipalities, stakeholders and the public.||
|Finalizing the indicators for the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and for the Greenbelt Plans to assess the results of the plans’ implementation and develop reports to monitor progress toward more complete communities and the achievement of the plans’ goals.||
|Partnering with municipalities to grow the Greenbelt. Respond to municipal requests in a timely manner ensuring there is a clear, simple process in place to address requests for further expansion.||
|Undertaking a review of the Municipal Elections Act after the 2014 municipal elections. Ensure that the act meets the needs of communities, and that it provides municipalities with the option of using ranked ballots in future elections, starting in 2018, as an alternative to first-past-the-post.||
|Continuing to apply a municipal lens to decisions made across government, ensuring the impact on municipalities is carefully considered.||
|Continuing to facilitate the strong relationship between the province and municipalities, including the ongoing implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), as well as the Toronto-Ontario Co-operation and Consultation Agreement. Consult with AMO and Toronto on matters of mutual interest.||
|Working with municipalities outside of these formal agreements to ensure their perspectives are also heard.||
|Reviewing the Building Code to continue to ensure buildings are safe, accessible and cost-effective. Focus on moving Ontario forward as the North American leader in climate-resistant and environmentally efficient construction.||
|Amending the Building Code to allow six-storey, wood-frame buildings, which will encourage the construction of mid-rise, mixed-use buildings.||
|Considering and implementing, where appropriate, recommendations from the Elliot Lake Public Inquiry, including changes to legislation, regulation, bylaws, policies and procedures that may prevent a similar event in the future.||
|Undertaking a review of the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program. The goal is to ensure the program design and criteria reflect current needs in addressing extreme weather events and build upon lessons learned from recent experiences, such as the 2013 ice storm. This will be done in alignment with the comprehensive review of the province’s emergency management system by the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.||
|Working with the ministers of Health and Long-Term Care, Education, and others, to consult with stakeholders and develop clear government policy on community hubs. This policy will promote efficient use of public assets and build better ties among schools, municipalities and community organizations.||