Ontario's new housing minister delays plan to name facilitators to review regional municipalities
Facilitators were to be named by Monday, now update on next steps is expected by end of month
Sept. 12, 2023
Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Paul Calandra says he's reviewing plans to name facilitators to review certain regional municipalities in Ontario.
Under previous housing minister Steve Clark, regional municipalities were told in the fall of 2022 to expect a facilitator who would work to ensure the regions were ready to "deliver on the government's commitment to tackle the housing supply crisis."
But in a statement on the website X.com, previously Twitter, Calandra said he will be "reviewing the previously stated intention to appoint facilitators."
Calandra said the ministry would provide "an update on next steps by the end of September."
When asked about the decision to delay naming facilitators, Calandra said during a stop in Windsor on Monday that he planned to ask a committee "to do a little bit more work on this," which would involve reaching out to the regions that were to be reviewed.
The committee of the legislative assembly would "look at not only those regions that we were looking at, but also maybe looking at incorporating some of the work in unincorporated areas," Calandra said, adding that includes talking to municipalities in northern Ontario.
Calandra became housing minister last week after the resignation of Clark amid the Greenbelt land-swap controversy.
The facilitators were expected to review six municipalities:
In May, the province announced plans to dissolve Peel region by 2025.
Last month, Clark announced during the annual conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario that he would name the facilitators by Sept. 11.
'Important to get this right'
Karen Redman, chair of Wateroo region, said in an emailed statement to CBC News in August that she has heard "steady feedback" from people, as well as businesses and organizations, that the regional municipality is "stronger together," especially as the area grows.
On Monday, Redman said she looks forward to "continued conversations with residents and provincial partners on this issue."
Niagara regional chair Jim Bradley said he supported Calandra's decision to "take the time he needs to review and evaluate" the government's approach "on this vital issue."
"It is important to get this right, and I trust that the minister and his staff are considering all options to ensure that more homes are being built across the province," Bradley said in an emailed statement. "Regardless of today's news, we fully support the province's goal to build more homes for the residents of Ontario."
Opposition critical of decision
MPP Jeff Burch, the NDP critic for municipal affairs, called the move "just more fumbling and bumbling from a government that is desperate to change the channel from their housing failures and ongoing corruption crisis."
"We are in a historic housing crisis and we need a provincial government that works as a productive partner with municipalities, not one that makes policy announcements on the fly," Burch said.
"Let's hope the minister sticks to this decision and allows municipalities to get to work on meeting their housing targets."
Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner, a Guelph MPP, said Calandra's announcement Monday is "another flip-flop" by the Progressive Conservative government.
"This back-of-the-napkin 'review' is yet another sign of a government in total disarray," Schreiner said in an emailed statement, adding the move "makes it harder for municipalities to care for their residents and plan for the road ahead."
Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser claimed the government has been giving handouts to people close to the party and "protecting the premier" when it comes to the Greenbelt controversy.
"It's clear the Conservatives have no real plan to tackle the housing crisis and are making it up as they go along," Fraser said in an emailed statement.