January 11, 2016

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1

Dear Premier:

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.

Best regards,

Ted McMeekin signature

Ted McMeekin

Results achieved

Mandate Letter CommitmentProgress to Date
Strengthen and support communities across the province.
  • To help strengthen municipal partnerships, the minister has toured the province and visited many municipalities as part of his Building Bridges Tour.
  • The minister attended annual conferences across Ontario, where he met with delegations from municipalities from across the province and co-chaired regular meetings under the Memorandum of Understanding with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).
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.
  • Year 1 of the Investment in Affordable Housing 2014 Extension Program has been allocated, supporting the creation of 468 new affordable rental housing units and repairs to nearly 700 units, and providing rental and down payment assistance to over 1,950 households in Ontario.
  • Year 2 implementation is underway.
  • The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) and MOHLTC have begun outreach activities.
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.
  • At their meeting on July 17, 2015, Canada’s premiers called on the federal government to commit to sustained, adequate and flexible funding for housing.
  • The need for permanent and flexible funding for housing from the federal government was referenced in the joint Ontario-Québec Cabinet meeting communiqué dated September 11, 2015.
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.
  • From April to July, MMAH held public consultations to update the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy (LTAHS), including diverse housing and homelessness stakeholders.
  • MMAH established the Expert Advisory Panel on Homelessness to get advice on how to best approach the province’s long-term goal to end homelessness, starting with how to define and measure the problem.
    An update to the LTAHS is expected in 2015–16.
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.
  • MMAH continues to implement the one-window planning system with seven partner ministries. This has been achieved through the ministry’s ongoing role in approval of planning applications and official plans.
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.
  • The Smart Growth for Our Communities Act received Royal Assent on December 3, 2015.
  • The Development Charges (DC) Working Group was established and has submitted its final report.
  • A new DC regulation to support increased investment in public transit has been approved.
  • The Planning Act Working Group was established to provide advice to inform proposed new regulations and changes to existing regulations.
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.
  • MMAH is working with the Ministry of the Attorney General in preparing for the review to be launched in 2016.
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.
  • The Co-ordinated Review Advisory Panel chaired by the Honourable David Crombie was created in February 2015, to provide the government with recommendations for aligning plans on issues heard during the consultations.
  • A public consultation was completed in May 2015. The panel heard from 3,000 people in 17 town halls and received 19,300 submissions to the ministry.
  • The panel reviewed submissions, heard from many stakeholders and on December 7, 2015, submitted its report with 87 recommendations on how to improve the plans and their implementation.
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.
  • The Coordinated Review Advisory Panel provided recommendations to the government about ways to further protect prime agricultural lands and support sustainable farming on December 7, 2015.
  • A public consultation was completed in May 2015 to inform the development of proposed changes to the plans.
    A follow-up public engagement on proposed amendments is planned for early 2016.
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.
  • The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Greenbelt Plan indicators were released on March 25, 2015.
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.
  • The Coordinated Review Advisory Panel provided recommendations to the government about four provincial plans, including ways to grow the Greenbelt, on December 7, 2015.
  • A public consultation on the proposed government response to the Advisory Panel report is planned for winter 2016.
  • Approval of the final plan amendments is expected in summer 2016.
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.
  • An in-person stakeholder consultation and online public consultation ran from May 28 to July 27, 2015.
  • MMAH posted the What We Heard Report, summarizing the feedback received.
  • Developing proposed changes to the Municipal Elections Act, including a ranked ballot framework, with the recognition that municipalities will need as much time as possible to prepare, if they wish to use ranked ballots in the 2018 municipal election.
  • MMAH struck a voter’s list working group to examine issues and opportunities for improvement.
Continuing to apply a municipal lens to decisions made across government, ensuring the impact on municipalities is carefully considered.
  • MMAH provided policy analysis to partner ministries on a number of Ontario Public Service initiatives, as well as supporting the development of municipal engagement strategies.
  • Led provincial strategy and participation in key municipal associations’ annual conferences, such as the AMO and the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association/Ontario Good Roads Association.
  • Strengthened knowledge on the AMO Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Toronto Consultation requirements and benefits to pre-consultation.
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.
  • AMO MOU meetings take place regularly, providing for political level engagement.
  • To help strengthen municipal partnerships, the minister has initiated an unprecedented tour of the province called the Building Bridges Tour, where the minister visits local councils and takes questions during regular council business.
  • Regular City of Toronto/Ontario meetings took place with planning underway for renewal of the Toronto Ontario Consultation and Co-operation Agreement.
Working with municipalities outside of these formal agreements to ensure their perspectives are also heard.
  • Provide expert advice on municipal impacts and perspectives, and on engagement approaches in support of government-wide program and policy development.
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.
  • MMAH is considering further amendments to enhance energy efficiency and resilience in buildings to support Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s Climate Change Action Strategy.
  • MMAH has also begun to review and will consult on potential amendments to the Building Code for the next edition.
Amending the Building Code to allow six-storey, wood-frame buildings, which will encourage the construction of mid-rise, mixed-use buildings.
  • Effective January 1, 2015, amendments to the Building Code now allow wood-frame buildings to be up to six storeys.
  • MMAH, together with the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, are working with stakeholders to develop a guideline for construction site fire safety in five and six storey wood-frame 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.
  • We are committed to taking action on the Commissioner’s recommendations, which were presented to government in October 2014.
  • One of the government’s first responses to the recommendations was to establish an expert advisory panel to provide advice on enhancing the safety of existing buildings in Ontario.
  • The Building Safety Technical Advisory Panel, established in March 2015, has finalized their recommendations and their report was presented to government in December 2015.
  • The panel’s report is one of many pieces of advice the government is considering as it begins to develop proposed changes to the Building Code.
  • Work is underway on the remaining recommendations.
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.
  • On August 17, 2015, the Premier announced that the province is replacing the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program with two new programs that will be more responsive to the needs of individuals and communities following a natural disaster.
  • The province will launch the two new programs, Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians, and Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance, in early 2016.
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.
  • MMAH provided input to the Premier’s Community Hub Framework Advisory Group’s release of the document Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan, which sought input from a variety of stakeholders.
  • MMAH is advancing the Action Plan recommendations and supporting the Special Advisor with continued consultation.
  • A Minister’s Forum on Integrated Planning for Community Hubs was held last November, and five regional forums took place last December. The forums provided MMAH with advice from stakeholders and experts on how best to implement key recommendations.