Skip to content

'Perfect timing': Innisfil blows by provincial housing target

According to a tracker on the Ontario government website, there were 697 new units started in town in 2023, exceeding its set goal of 462

Innisfil is already proving it can play nice with the Ontario government.

According to a tracker on the province’s website, the town far exceeded its 2023 housing target of 462 new homes, starting 697 units — or 151 per cent of its set goal — last year. Innisfil is one of 11 municipalities to exceed their targets, joining Belleville, Chatham-Kent, Kingston, Pickering, Sarnia, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Welland and Whitchurch-Stouffville in the province’s good books.

The goals were developed for 50 large or growing municipalities, as part of the province’s promise to build 1.5 million homes across Ontario by 2031. Innisfil signed its housing pledge, agreeing to construct 6,300 homes within eight years, in November.

Municipalities that reach 80 per cent or more of their annual target become eligible for money from the Building Faster Fund; those that exceed their goal also receive a bonus, the province says.

But Innisfil’s early success is the product of years of background work, said planning and growth director Andria Leigh.

“Housing approvals by the town over the past five years have been very strong and recognizing that the timing from town approval to construction varies, the success in meeting the 2023 housing targets is the result of both 2023 building permit activity but also previous building permit approvals also proceeding to construction in 2023,” she said.

Six municipalities are considered to be “on track” to meet their target — in this case, that means hitting between 80 and 99 per cent of their 2023 goals. Locally, that includes Barrie (84 per cent) and Georgina (87). Meanwhile, 33 municipalities fell short of targets by coming in at 79 per cent or under, including Bradford West Gwillimbury (29 per cent), East Gwillimbury (51), New Tecumseth (seven) and Newmarket (31).

The province also notes that smaller municipalities without defined targets started 8,708 new homes last year.

Simcoe County Home Builders' Association president Ryan Johnson says Innisfil has implemented some positive measures to encourage development. However, the municipality also benefited somewhat from the fact it has huge tracts of undeveloped space available, and Barrie was initially slow to take advantage of the land it annexed from Innisfil more than a decade ago.

“Innisfil’s very progressive; they were working with investors and developers over the course of many years to build sustainable communities,” he said. “It was almost like the perfect storm for Innisfil. They had enough land available for development; when the boom of 2022 hit, Innisfil had probably the most available land, where Barrie was still working through some of their challenges with the annexed land and getting that developed. Innisfil blew (Barrie’s) numbers out of the water. (It was) just the perfect timing. Innisfil made themselves very attractive to developers. People want to be here; it has everything to offer.”

As of 2022, Innisfil had more than 8,000 units that had yet to be constructed but were either permitted for development or in the approvals process. These will help the municipality in its continued effort to meet provincial targets, Leigh said.

However, there are many development factors outside the town’s control, including market supply and demand, labour and material costs and interest rates, which could ultimately determine whether the municipality hits its targets.

“(Innisfil) is continuing to implement the initiatives outlined in the town’s housing pledge, including efficiencies in the approval process, but ultimately recognizes that the town does not construct the housing and needs continued collaboration with all stakeholders in the approval and construction process to continue to be successful,” she said.

Johnson agrees, noting current interest rates may price many people out of the home-buying market.

“With the higher borrowing rates and higher cost of living, ultimately, it comes down to affordability issues," he said. “It’s a cycle.”

Currently, the tracker relies on monthly data provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Other housing types that have been enabled and encouraged by provincial policies — which could include basement and laneway suites, long-term-care facilities and student housing — will be added in the coming months following consultations with municipalities and other partners, the province says.

To track municipal housing targets, visit

Reader Feedback

Chris Simon

About the Author: Chris Simon

Chris Simon is an award-winning journalist who has written for publications throughout Simcoe County and York Region. He is the current Editor of BradfordToday and InnisfilToday and has about two decades of experience in the sector
Read more