The Ford Government Building Faster Fund

This post, from August 25, includes an initial review of the Ford Government’s new Building Faster Fund and what it means for Hamilton taxpayers.

City of Hamilton Infill Development

Hello Ward 8 Neighbours,

Premier Ford’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark recently announced the Building Faster Fund.

The fund promises $1.2 billion dollars to Ontario municipalities over three years beginning in 2024-2025 to support the creation of new housing.

But what does this fund mean for Hamilton taxpayers?

Please continue reading below…

Will The Building Faster Fund Help Hamilton?

In response to media inquiries, Ward 8 Councillor John-Paul Danko offered the following comments on the recently announced provincial Building Faster Fund.

Housing affordability is a primary concern for Ward 8 residents. The average cost of a home or rent is far beyond what most people can afford.

At the same time, increases in the cost of living and taxes make life increasingly unaffordable for residents.

Starting in 2024, the Ford Government is costing Hamilton taxpayers and extra $55 million dollars a year because of Bill 23. That’s a 2.8% annual tax increase and 8.7% water bill increase downloaded by the Ford Government to every Hamilton residential taxpayer.

Unfortunately, the Building Faster Fund does nothing to actually provide new housing. All it does is potentially return some of the Development Charges (DCs) that the Ford Government took away from Ontario municipalities through Bill 23.

While we appreciate the possibility of recovering some of the DC charges downloaded to taxpayers, right now we have zero details on how progress will actually be measured or how much lost funding can be recovered.

The Building Faster Fund Shell Game

It appears that fundamentally, the Building Faster Fund is essentially a shell game – the Ford Government is effectively funding Development Charge (DC) subsidies for developers.

Here is how it seems to work: Bill 23 waives Development Charges (DCs) for qualifying housing development, meaning developers/new home buyers do not have to pay charges that fund city infrastructure for new development. (While this could lead to slightly less expensive new homes, it is more likely that it will simply increase developer’s profit margins).

This lost funding and the costs for supporting new development is then downloaded by the Ford Government to existing City of Hamilton residential taxpayers. (Currently a 2.8% tax increase and 8.7% water bill increase).

The Building Homes Faster Act potentially returns some of the lost funding to municipalities, closing the circle and resulting in the Ford Government effectively subsidizing new development using provincial tax funds (still taxpayer dollars). 

In essence, developers will have an opportunity to increase profit margins through this indirect provincial subsidy.

However, from a City perspective, we much prefer development subsidies through provincial tax dollars rather than on the municipal property tax levy.

Effective Policy to Build More Affordable Housing

Right now, the City of Hamilton has 37,470 residential housing units within the former urban boundary approved, pending approval or identified for development. That is 10.5 years worth of housing supply!

At the same time, Hamilton has lost approximately 16,000 units of affordable rental housing over the past decade.

If the Ford Government was interested in policy that gets more homes built and improve housing affordability, they would immediately do two things:

  1. Put an expiration date on existing development approvals.

    Some developers routinely sit on approved projects for years without ever building. A use it or loose it policy would encourage developers with active approvals to actually build.
  1. Protect affordable rental housing, especially from large scale institutional investors.

    We are losing affordable rental housing far faster than we can possibly replace it with much more expensive new rental units. Effective provincial policy to protect tenants from losing the affordable housing they already have would be much more effective than only focusing on new construction.

Questions or concerns?

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact our office here.

Councillor John-Paul Danko