Ten years on from the New Deal for Communities (see preamble), the Ford government wants to get involved in house building – or at least campaign for it.
Just what kind of house building Ford wants, it is not saying. It does not know what the plan might look like. But there is evidence to suggest that the Ford government is likely to be much tougher than the McGuinty or Hudak governments.
The three subcommittees in the Housing Committee (working group on assisted dwelling blocks, home and residential development subcommittees and the Housing Infrastructure Subcommittees) have been formulating a strategy that is recommended to the council group in charge of housing.
In contrast to the Ontario Liberal government (of which the Ford government is an arm), the Ford government is not going to be shy to make its economic and political views known when it comes to the provision of houses. And that could affect the end product.
Ford has been making noise about housing lots for days now and he’s been unveiling areas where some of the projects are going to be built.
His cabinet has approved financial support for a housing lot at the juncture of Interprovincial Highway 6 East (Burntwood Expressway) and Highway 3 South (Vanier Road) in Toronto.
The reason for setting up this housing committee, it was explained by Jeff Leal, the Minister of Economic Development, Jobs and Trade, was to get input from the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) or to rely on other institutions in an effort to deliver more homes.
What Leal was really saying is that the Ford government has an agenda around housing for years to come and that will be manifested in various ways. A good example is with transportation funding to stimulate development on the fringe of Toronto.
The government is not shy about saying that we need more houses. The local MPPs, Greg Sorbara and Adam Vaughan, who are co-chairs of the Housing Subcomittee, said that at the press conference.
So far, the plan for OMB expansion is not clear. But it is widely expected that the panel will require the CEO of the Ontario Building Trades to turn over information on his organization and whether it has business interests that are to the detriment of housing.
Already, the head of the Workers Uniting Housing First Coalition in Toronto – Workers Uniting Housing Coalition – has been expelled from the panel for his organization’s part in block making.
The membership of the subcommittees are impressively diverse. So far, the subcommittees have split in five directions: All 5 of the subcommittees are dominated by Progressive Conservatives while the other two are dominated by NDP representatives.
It is not unusual for the committee to see a large disparity in the direction of the committee. But if the Ford government does not get along well with the unions, there could be gridlock.
(Note: Greg Sorbara is a Progressive Conservative MPP for the riding of Guelph-Oshawa, in which Councillor Jason Delorey’s office is located. Jason Delorey is our regional chair for GRA, the lobbying arm of the United Community Health Workers which represents two unions in the GTA.)