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'The math is tricky': Newmarket mayor warns province's housing targets for town look impossible
Nov. 14, 2022

The province’s aggressive housing targets for Newmarket appear impossible to achieve, Mayor John Taylor warns.

As part of the government’s plan to build 1.5 million homes by 2031 to address Ontario’s housing shortage, Queen’s Park has dictated the number of housing units certain municipalities are expected to achieve.

For Newmarket, it’s 12,000 homes.

And that has left Taylor scratching his head.

There are a number of factors to take into consideration, he said.

For example, after many years, the province has finally made a decision that will see wastewater from Newmarket’s future growth go to the Duffin Creek sewage facility on Lake Ontario in Pickering, rather than to Lake Simcoe. Growth can’t occur without a wastewater solution.

However, putting the infrastructure in place to handle wastewater at Duffin Creek will take six years, said Taylor, adding the province won’t reimburse the region for the $100 million it spent on the Lake Simcoe option, ordered by a previous provincial government.

Newmarket has enough wastewater allocation until that happens to accommodate 2,000 more homes.

So, 2,000 homes can be built over six years between now and when Duffin Creek is ready, leaving 5,000 homes to be built in each of the following two years or so to meet the province’s 2031 target.

About 300 homes are built annually in Newmarket currently.

Meanwhile, the province has indicated it will remove 7,400 acres of land in 15 areas of the Greenbelt for housing, adding 9,400 acres elsewhere.

About 600 acres to be used for housing are in King Township on the west side of Bathurst Street on Newmarket’s border, Taylor said.

With King’s established communities of King City, Nobleton and Schomberg far from this site, future residents on Newmarket’s western boundary are likely to look to Newmarket when they are looking for services such as recreation, which would put a significant strain on Newmarket’s finances and services, Taylor said.

What’s more, developing the King site could take from Newmarket’s wastewater allocation to Duffin Creek, making it even more difficult to meet the provincial housing target, he said.

“I’m going to suggest, politely, that the math is a little tricky on this,” he said.

Staff is preparing a report and the town hopes to discuss the issues with the province, Taylor said.