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Ford pops into Barrie, drops $6.34M into city coffers for housing

'Keep building here, Mr. Mayor, because we are coming back with a larger cheque next year,' says premier
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, right, and Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall enjoy cake after Friday's $6.34-million funding announcement.

Barrie had its second handover of housing money in two days Friday.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, flanked by Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Paul Calandra and Mayor Alex Nuttall, made the $6.34-million announcement at Southshore Centre this morning during an update on Barrie’s progress toward its housing target.

Barrie is receiving $6,344,201 from Ontario’s Building Faster Fund, as the city has exceeded its 2023 housing target, breaking ground on a total of 1,716 new housing units last year.

The funding is "to ensure that the growing city has the critical infrastructure needs that they require to continue building for today and tomorrow,” Ford said. “We’re also working closely with all the municipalities to build more homes.”

Nuttall said the city has a good relationship with Queen's Park.

“Mr. Premier, you’re always welcome in the city of Barrie, but anytime you’re bringing $6.34-million you’re really, really welcome, OK?” the mayor said.

On Thursday, Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Sean Fraser announced Barrie is getting $25.6 million in federal funding to fast-track more than 680 housing units during the next three years and help spur construction of 4,100 homes in the next decade.

The Ontario’s Building Faster Fund is a three-year, $1.2-billion program designed to encourage municipalities to address the housing supply crisis.

The fund rewards municipalities that make significant progress against their targets by providing funding for housing and community infrastructure.

The funding is provided to municipalities that have reached at least 80 per cent of their provincially assigned housing target for the year, with increased funding for municipalities that exceed their target.

“That rewards municipalities that hit their targets,” Ford said. "You’ve hit your target, actually you exceeded your target with over 1,716 homes, which is just absolutely amazing."

There was no official confirmation Friday on whether Innisfil, which reached 151 per cent of its set goal last year, will get provincial cash. Bradford has already confirmed it missed its target. 

The funding can be used by the city for community development and projects to lay the groundwork for more housing, Ford said.

“Keep building here, Mr. Mayor, because we are coming back with a larger cheque next year," the premier said. 

“This funding will further propel our efforts in creating a variety of housing options to suit the needs of our growing city,” Nuttall said, “including our young people and seniors, while ensuring Barrie remains a thriving community to call home.”

Barrie city council’s Ontario municipal housing pledge has a target to build 23,000 new residential units by 2031 as part of Bill 23, the province’s More Homes Built Faster Act of 2022, which calls for 1.5 million new homes built in Ontario, again by 2031.

By the end of 2023, the city had issued planning approvals for 14,641 housing units.

The city’s latest information on housing is that 1,845 dwelling units were started between Jan. 1, 2023 and Feb. 29, 2024. The city defines a housing start as when a footing inspection has been scheduled — which means that construction has begun on a new house or multi-unit building.

In 2023, the city had 1,809 housing starts, which exceeded its 2023 target of 1,687.

The 2024 target is 1,917 housing starts.

The federal agreement between Barrie and Ottawa, through the Housing Accelerator Fund, will provide $25.6 million in funding designed to eliminate barriers to building needed housing.

Barrie’s plan commits to nine local programs, including permitting four units as-of-right citywide, making city-owned land available for affordable housing, helping stalled developments that already have planning approvals get building permits by offering incentives, and expanding the city’s affordable housing community improvement plan to include forgivable loans for secondary suites.