York Region is going ahead with funding a new social housing development on Bayview Parkway in Newmarket that could see shovels in the ground in 2025.
Regional council gave tentative approval Nov. 30 for the capital spending authority from reserves to make the project happen, with an estimated total project cost of $112 million. The authority comes despite a lack of secured funding from upper levels of government, with staff indicating that funding could come in after construction begins.
The lack of upper-level government funding for housing was raised as an issue. Whitchurch-Stouffville Mayor Iain Lovatt said despite meetings with ministers and offering plans to build 1,900 homes over the next 10 years in York Region with a one-third funding split at each level of government, it has not got enough traction. He suggested advertising in newspapers to get more attention.
“We’ve been too nice. I don’t think we’ve been loud enough. I don’t think we have been in the press enough,” he said.
The 62 Bayview Pkwy development on the former York Region headquarters site could feature more than 200 affordable subdivided units. The project has been in the works for a couple of years, and although the region initially indicated it would take upper-government funding to take off, it now plans to proceed regardless.
The region is proposing $81.9 million for community and health services for 2024, with a capital spending authority of $300.7 million. About $177.2 million total will be allotted to progressing both the 62 Bayview Pkwy development and another site at Box Grove in Markham that could amount to more than 200 units. The two sites were selected for funding as they are the most ready for progress, according to commissioner Katherine Chislett.
Lovatt said York Region needs more housing funding, noting the $1.2 billion the federal government announced this month in support of 2,600 rental housing units for Toronto. Richmond Hill is also getting a $31 million federal funding boost to fast-track 780 units in Richmond Hill over three years.
“We have 1,900 homes we could start now. We aren’t getting the funding we need," he said.
Richmond Hill Mayor David West agreed, adding that the loss of development charges is another sticking point. In addition to decreasing the charges that help to fund infrastructure, the province also made municipally built social housing ineligible for development charge funds.
“It’s already putting us in a box,” West said. “We are very, very restricted in our ability to create housing that is more affordable. The waiting list for Housing York is just so long.”
York Region chair Wayne Emmerson said more housing funding is something the region is pushing for.
“Housing is a big issue. It’s an issue across Ontario, it’s across Canada,” he said. “Bear with us. We will do what we can. We will get the facetime we need with the ministers.”
The operating budget for community and health services, which also includes public health and social services, is at $283.3 million this year, a 3.8 per cent increase before assessment growth revenue.
Included is a maintained $12.8 million funding boost to social services added late in the 2023 budget, which went in part toward shelter providers like Inn From the Cold and Blue Door. After largely getting those dollars from reserves in 2023, staff plan to maintain that part of the budget sustainably over time.
Newmarket Mayor John Taylor praised making that increase a permanent part of the budget.
“We’re going to need to, as a region, invest more heavily in this area in the coming years,” he said. “We’re taking a lot of steps but they can’t be the last steps. The challenge is growing.”