The North Star


Ontario Housing Crisis

Ford Cuts Plans for Affordable Housing

Read Time:3 Minute

Subscribe to our newsletter:

On March 21, without giving a precise explanation as to why, Ontario Premier Doug Ford abandoned his commitment to allowing the construction of fourplexes throughout the province. Initially ready to force municipalities to accept these multi-dwelling buildings in order to stem the housing crisis, Mr. Ford clarified his thinking on March 22, leaving many citizens perplexed.

This decision comes as a surprise, given the Premier's commitment to build 1.5 million housing units by 2031. The adoption of province-wide fourplex legislation was a key point in the 2022 report of his Affordable Housing Task Force. This recommendation was intended as a lever to achieve Mr. Ford's housing goals by simplifying and accelerating the construction process while optimizing use of available land.

In Ontario, municipalities are responsible for local zoning bylaws, including the authorization of multi-unit dwellings such as fourplexes, though many municipalities prohibit their construction in many of their areas. Bylaws often differ from one city to the next, making it difficult for developers to build this type of dwelling in the absence of clear guidelines.

“It's off the table for us,” Ford said at a press conference in Richmond Hill two weeks ago. “We're going to build homes, single-dwelling homes, townhomes, that's what we're gonna focus on."

He added that, if "you go into the little communities and start putting up four-storey, six-storey, eight-storey buildings right deep into the communities, there's going to be a lot of shouting and screaming. That's a massive mistake."

This statement was puzzling, however, as triplexes and fourplexes don't tend to have so many storeys. In the city of Montreal and its suburbs, for example, such buildings can regularly be seen coexisting peacefully alongside single-family homes, not exceeding the height of a two-storey dwelling. Triplexes and fourplexes are quite a simple way to increase the number of dwelling units in low-density neighbourhoods without taking up significantly more space.

A residential street in Laval, QC, where triplexes and fourplexes can be found alongside single-family dwellings

Another favour?

In 2022, Ford appointed a housing task force to find ways to address Ontario’s housing affordability crisis. The 2022 report recommended multi-unit housing, such as three- and fourplexes, as a key step towards meeting housing demand. Following the report, Mr. Ford’s Conservative Party adopted the “As of Right” legislation, which allowed triplexes province-wide.

After the Richmond Hill press conference, however, Ford’s office clarified that it’s up to municipalities to make the final decision on allowing fourplexes, leaving a major gap in addressing Ontario’s housing shortage.

Is cutting fourplexes another favour for Ford’s friends? Ford’s personal connections to housing contractors are well known. Big name developers have attended Ford family events in the past, including his daughter's 2023 wedding. At least four of the housing developers at that wedding have benefited from 'fast-tracked' building permits given out by the PCs including Mario Cortellucci, an influential Toronto land developer who was seated next to the premier. According to the wedding's seating plan Shakir Rehmatullah, another prominent Toronto developer who benefited from the Greenbelt land swap, was also in attendance.

The recent Greenbelt scandal involved several prominent MPs resigning after it was reported that the MPs had dined with “prominent housing developers and a registered lobbyist.” The reporting by the Narwhal led Ontario's watchdogs to publish two scathing reports on probable corruption in the Ford government's handling of the Greenbelt. Ford is currently facing an ongoing RCMP investigation into alleged corruption in favouring certain housing developers when dividing up the Greenbelt.

Support journalism going against the tide ← To help North Star continue to produce stories from the majority's perspective and in the majority's interest, make a donation! Every contribution matters.