August 10, 2022
TORONTO - Today, in just the third day of the Progressive Conservative Government’s second mandate: Steven Clark, the Minister for Municipal Affairs, tabled a much anticipated bill that would provide the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa with extra powers: enacting a “strong mayor” system similar to that used in many cities in the United States. The legislation tabled by Minister Clark is called the “Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act”, As the name suggests, it is meant to be a cornerstone of the government’s plan to expand housing supply within the Province of Ontario.
While there is little in this bill that would directly address the province’s housing supply crisis, some of the powers that will be given to mayors could be used to hasten the construction of new housing. “The ability to veto by-laws that contradict provincial priorities could be used to prevent anti-housing councillors from jeopardising the province’s goal of building 1.5 million homes by 2030”, remarked Chris Spoke, an advocate with More Neighbours, “new powers in personnel management could also be used to ensure that city departments are staffed with solution-oriented people who want to translate this policy vision into reality”.
“Whether these powers would be used effectively remains to be seen, ” said MacKenzie Campbell. "We encourage Mayor Tory to take bold action on housing, even if it means stepping on the toes of the most anti-housing councilors. Should the mayor be fortunate enough to be re-elected this fall with these new powers, he should move faster than he has in his previous two terms."
What doesn’t change is the fact that there’s still an anti-housing majority on Toronto’s city council. “Under these rules, the mayor would only be able to veto items actually passed by council”, remarked Jacob Dawang, “this means that regardless of who’s mayor, policies like legalising rooming houses or missing middle housing could still be killed by anti-housing councilors who wish to preserve the status quo. The importance of electing pro-housing voices to council in October is still paramount.”
“At the end of the day, the only way to solve the housing crisis is to actually build homes”, lamented Rocky Petkov, “Planning reform, including the elimination of exclusionary zoning, is much more important than strong mayor powers when it comes to housing. Minister Clark must keep his promise to introduce further legislation to make any headway in the housing crisis.”
- More Neighbours Toronto
Media contact: Rocky Petkov, email@example.com
More Neighbours Toronto is a volunteer-only organization of housing advocates that believe in building more multi-family homes of all kinds for those who dream of building their lives in Toronto. We advocate for reforms to increase our city’s ability to build more homes in every neighbourhood. We are a big-tent organisation with members across the political spectrum who are nevertheless committed to counterbalancing the anti-housing agenda that dominates Toronto's politics, created an affordability crisis, and has cost burdened a new generation of aspiring residents. We are firmly committed to the principle that housing is a human right and believe Toronto should be inclusive and welcoming to all.