Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced a significant shift in the province’s approach to housing infrastructure funding, allowing broader access to municipalities. This move comes after the initial refusal to alter the criteria of the $1.2-billion Building Faster Fund.
Premier Ford revealed that the Ontario government is opening the funding for housing-enabling infrastructure to additional municipalities. This decision was made public during his address at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference.
Previously, the Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister, Paul Calandra, had declined requests to modify the fund’s criteria. However, in a turnaround, Premier Ford has stated that any unspent money from the Building Faster Fund will be allocated to a different fund, which all municipalities can apply for.
This development follows the province’s assignment of housing targets to 50 municipalities, linking the Building Faster Fund to the accomplishment of at least 80% of these targets. Notably, less than half of the municipalities met this threshold in 2023.
Municipalities had been advocating for a change in the eligibility criteria for the fund, proposing the number of building permits issued as a measure rather than the number of housing starts. This suggestion arose from the challenges municipalities face due to factors beyond their control, such as high interest rates, supply-chain issues, and labor shortages, which can delay construction starts by developers.
Premier Ford addressed these concerns by announcing that the potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of unutilized funds from the Building Faster Fund would be redirected into a new fund dedicated to housing-enabling infrastructure. This fund will be accessible to all municipalities in Ontario.
“This approach will continue to reward municipalities that hit their targets while supporting much-needed new infrastructure in communities across the province,” Premier Ford remarked, highlighting the government’s commitment to facilitating housing development and infrastructure growth throughout Ontario.