Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford’s victory in Ontario could signal change to some of the Liberal government’s high-profile housing sector initiatives, including the 15-per-cent foreign-buyers tax introduced last year.
Mr. Ford did not release a detailed policy platform on housing issues during his campaign, but he pledged to increase the supply of affordable housing in the Greater Toronto Area and said he would preserve the existing rent-control rules for tenants in Ontario.
He also said in a March interview with The Globe and Mail that he was considering eliminating the 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers in a broad region around Toronto, which premier Kathleen Wynne introduced in April, 2017. Her Fair Housing Plan contributed to a sharp slowdown in sales in the Toronto housing market that began in May last year.
Mr. Ford said instead of the tax, he preferred to encourage more single-family homes to be built on underused land.
“I just don’t like the government getting involved. I believe in the market dictating,” he said in the interview. “The market, no matter whether it’s the stock market or anything, it will always take care of itself – supply and demand. We’re short on single-dwelling homes.”
While Mr. Ford’s housing policies have not been fleshed out with details, many in the province’s housing sector are hopeful the new government, elected on Thursday, will cut red tape and quicken the pace of development to increase housing supply.
Tim Hudak, chief executive officer of the Ontario Real Estate Association and a former Ontario PC leader, said he believes the new government will use its considerable leverage to urge municipalities to expand infrastructure – sewer, water, transit and roads, for example – to undeveloped land and approve more projects for construction.
“For struggling first-time home buyers trying to find a place to call home, more hope has arrived as a result of the election,” Mr. Hudak said in an interview on Friday.
Joe Vaccaro, CEO of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, said he is optimistic the new government will streamline the province’s environmental assessment process, which can delay projects for years while developers wait for environmental approvals.
He said Mr. Ford talked during the campaign about requiring the Environment Ministry to give an answer on an application within one year, which would bring needed certainty for developers.