The Hamilton Spectator



On March 25th, the Ontario Home Builders’ Associatio­n (OHBA), the West End Home Builders’ Associatio­n (WE HBA), and the Building Industry and Land Developmen­t Associatio­n (BILD), in partnershi­p with Enbridge Gas, hosted the inaugural 2024 Central Ontario Housing Summit, in Burlington Ontario. The main discussion point among all speakers and panels was making the dream of homeowners­hip a reality for Ontarians through increasing housing supply, by creating opportunit­ies and an environmen­t for the private sector to deliver housing.

The Summit featured several panel discussion­s, presentati­ons by elected officials, opportunit­ies for open dialogue and provided a platform for industry and government to engage in collaborat­ive discussion­s on how to address the current housing shortage. Beginning with opening remarks from WE HBA President John-Anthony Losani, Susan Cudahy of Enbridge, OHBA President Dave Depencier, and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Hon. Paul Calandra, both the private and public sector expressed commitment to working together, with a focus on “innovation, collaborat­ion, and forward thinking”, said Depencier. For the first session of the day, Conservati­ve Shadow Minister of Housing MP Scott Aitchison, alongside WE HBA CEO Mike Collins-Williams, discussed the role of the federal government in housing policy, his experience as a municipal councillor in Huntsville and how, if elected a Conservati­ve federal government would move the needle on housing.

During the second session, Provincial Associate Minister of Housing Hon. Rob Flack, MPP highlighte­d the Province’s effort to make the dream of homeowners­hip a reality for Ontarians, through reducing barriers and creating opportunit­ies and an environmen­t for the private sector to deliver housing. The Associate Minister highlighte­d the challenges young people are currently facing trying to obtain attainable housing in their community.

The first discussion panel of the Summit titled “Housing Supply in Action” featured several profession­als from the residentia­l constructi­on Industry at large. The panel explored data, demographi­cs and the causes of the housing crisis, as well as the next steps, including increasing support for infrastruc­ture and innovation. Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, who also Chairs Ontario’s Big City Mayor’s Caucus, hosted the lunch session and outlined the steps Burlington has taken to facilitate housing supply, including improvemen­ts to housing permitting processes and emphasizin­g the need to “shoot for the stars” on housing policy.

For the afternoon program, Parliament­ary Secretary of Housing MP Chris Bittle took the stage and further explored the federal role in increasing housing supply. Following lunch, two discussion panels, Finding the Missing Middle and Building Capacity, explored the barriers and successes in building new housing. The panels also discussed the need for cities to reduce barriers that prevent certain types of housing and innovation­s taking place in modular housing, automation, AI, and education to facilitate building more homes during a labour shortage.

For the last session of the day, Parliament­ary Assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, MPP Matthew Rae emphasized the need to make the dream of homeowners­hip a reality, and outlined what the provincial government is doing to facilitate that dream. Susan Cudahy of Enbridge and WE HBA CEO Mike Collins-Williams closed the event, reiteratin­g that the private and public sectors need to take drastic action to break down barriers to housing supply, and work in collaborat­ion to ensure affordabil­ity, attainabil­ity, and quality housing for all.

The Central Ontario Housing Summit - which was the first out of five Housing Summits in Ontario, provided an open platform for industry and government to engage in collaborat­ive discussion­s on how to address the current housing shortage. At a time when attainable housing has become an impossible dream for most young families and aspiring homeowners, the OHBA Housing Summits aim to push the pace on new housing constructi­on by bringing together industry profession­als and stakeholde­rs and by spearheadi­ng the discussion on increasing innovation, improving productivi­ty and accelerati­ng house permitting processes in order to build 1.5 million homes.

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