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Ford government could reject latest federal housing package

The Ford government appears to be casting aside the federal government’s latest housing plan, which would require provincial buy-in on fourplexes in order to receiving funding from Ottawa in 2025.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $6-billion infrastructure and housing fund for provinces and municipalities that comes with binding conditions that lower levels of government must adhere to in order to qualify for the cash.

One of the conditions set out by the Prime Minister’s Office is that provinces must “require municipalities” to accept four units as-of-right and allow more “missing middle” housing, including duplexes, triplexes, townhouses and multi-unit apartments.

While the Ontario government designated three units ‘as-of-right’ across the province, paving the way for triplexes to be built in any residential neighbourhood without prior municipal approval, it stopped short of fourplexes.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has railed against allowing the four-unit buildings or four-storey homes across the province, saying he won’t tell cities what to do and warning they would be a “ massive mistake.”

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At an announcement in March, Ford said the policy was “off the table” for his government, musing about the potential backlash to larger building in suburban neighbourhoods.

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“I can assure you 1,000 per cent, you go into communities and start putting up four-storey, six-storey, eight-storey buildings right deep into communities, there’s going to be a lot of shouting and screaming,” Ford said on March 21.

Several cities, including Toronto, Mississauga and Guelph, allow fourplexes to be built by developers without needing to seek extra zoning permissions.

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On Tuesday, Housing Minister Paul Calandra said while the province is “open to collaboration” with the federal government, it won’t adopt Ottawa’s requirement on four-unit homes.

“We know that local municipalities know their communities best and don’t believe in forcing them to build where it doesn’t make sense,” Calandra said in a statement. “We are here to support municipalities and are giving them the funding and tools that they need to build more housing, of all types.”

Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles said the premier is a “roadblock” to housing solutions in the province.

“Everyone deserves a home they can afford,” Stiles said in a statement.

“Doug Ford is jeopardizing even more federal money for Ontario’s housing crisis because of some arbitrary, out-of-touch stance he’s clinging to on fourplexes. The Premier needs to stop being a roadblock to smart, simple solutions that will fix Ontario’s housing crisis. He must reverse course on fourplexes today.”

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Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser said the point of the funding is to “actually solve the national housing crisis, not just play at the margins.”

“Provincial governments are going to have a choice: do you want support to expand infrastructure and make the decisions necessary to make it easier to build homes? Or do you want to go it alone, and adopt measures that restrict housing supply,” Fraser told Global News.

“I’m not sure what Premier Ford’s next move may be.”

— with files from Global News’ David Baxter

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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