Opinion Piece on Bill 162

March 11, 2024

The following piece appeared in the Toronto Star on February 28, 2024 in the Opinion Section.

Doug Ford’s “Get It Done” Act worsens housing crisis with sneaky new push for sprawl

Premier Doug Ford’ claims his new so-called “Get it Done Act” will make it easier to build houses in Ontario, but in reality it’s a disingenuous piece of work that quietly slips in changes that will make Ontario’s housing crisis worse.

Hidden in the middle of this messy omnibus bill is language that will require many Ontario municipalities to allow new development on previously protected farmland, forests, river valleys and wetlands.

It’s clear that Ford’s government intends to continue leaning into the repeatedly debunked myth that we don’t have enough land already set aside in Ontario for housing development. The Premier used this falsehood to justify his scandal-plagued plan to open up Greenbelt land for development, which he had to reverse after a major public outcry induced by his previous commitment to protect it and by the whiff of corruption.  

Ontario is losing 319 acres of farmland every day to development and sprawl. Yet studies show that there is ample serviced or service-ready land within municipal boundaries across the province. Last year, Waterloo Region planner Kevin Eby used the government’s own flawed, sprawl friendly land assessment approach to show that well over 2 million homes can be built on land already set aside for development.

But by once again pushing the myth that we need to pave more nature and farmland, the government sends a strong signal to municipalities and developers that will lead both them and the rest of us in the wrong direction when it comes to housing. Ford’s new bill pushes cities, towns and builders to divert hard-to-get skilled labour and construction materials away from building affordable, diverse housing units where people want to live and work. 

Instead, if the bill is passed we’ll see builders encouraged to put up more large, expensive houses that are unaffordable to average Ontario families. Mini-monster homes in spread out neighbourhoods require huge public investments in sewers, power lines, roads and highways far away from where most people live and work. 

The last thing Ontarians need in a housing crisis is a new law that supports building the wrong type of housing in the wrong places at the wrong prices. 

One thing most Ontarians do agree on is that we need more affordable housing, for well over a million new households in the coming decade. To achieve this, we need to ensure we’re getting the most bang for the buck out of our construction workers and materials. 

Unfortunately, Ford’s new law diverts these resources away from where they’re needed most. Every worker building a large, expensive single-family oversized home in a new suburb is not building an affordable home in the right location. 

If Ford actually wants to “get it done” and encourage more affordable home construction he can remove the section in his proposed legislation that requires municipalities to support wasteful construction, Then, he can replace it with new policies proposed by housing specialists to promote sensible intensification. This would make it easy for municipalities and developers to build affordable projects within urban boundaries and get us the most number of homes in the shortest time.

This is common sense that is backed by decades of experience and hard data. Even his hand-picked Housing Affordability Task Force was heading in this direction.  It’s not too late for Premier Ford to amend his bill so it encourages urban affordable housing rather than paving farmland and greenspace. 


David Crombie is the former Mayor of Toronto and Federal Cabinet Minister. Anne Golden is the former President of the Conference Board of Canada. Both are founders of the Alliance for a Livable Ontario.