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Four northern Ont. cities meet Ford government’s 2023 housing targets

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Thunder Bay, North Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie all surpassed their 2023 home-building targets for new units set by the province.

North Bay smashed its housing target of 73 units, recording just more than 200 last year.

“This is great news,” said Beverley Hillier, the city’s manager of planning & building services.

“Everything we’ve done is about streamlining development approval process and we’re in the process of implementing a new electronic building application and permit application issue tool.”

Two years ago, the Ford government set a goal of building 1.5 million new homes by 2031. To spur development, the province set annual housing targets for municipalities, with financial rewards for those that meet or exceed their goal.

Thunder Bay, North Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie all surpassed their 2023 home-building targets for new units set by the province. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

Thunder Bay, North Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie all surpassed their 2023 home-building targets for new units set by the province. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

North Bay expects to receive $800,000 and Hillier said it will be up to city council to decide how to spend the money.

“Our goal is to create housing. While the city isn’t the one putting the shovel in the ground, our goal is to create a space for the development community,” she said.

“We have some development applications and building permit applications in the hopper.”

The province set a 110-unit goal for Sault Ste. Marie and it reached 213 by the end of the year. Mayor Matthew Shoemaker expects the city will receive $750,000.

“I was surprised ... but pleasantly surprised,” Shoemaker said.

He said the city will use the money to improve municipal infrastructure around new housing developments, like sidewalk extensions, new sewer runs and covering additional costs for garbage collection.

“Those are the types of investments that we can strategically deploy these funds to accelerate what is already possible,” Shoemaker said.

Extra motivation

While the funding incentive is extra motivation, Shoemaker said it’s always been the city’s priority to meet the additional targets set out by the province.

“The idea that I had been pushing prior to my election as mayor was to use underutilized pieces of property like churches or the legion to amplify the available housing stock,” he told CTV News.

Shoemaker said the city has applied for federal money that would help not-for-profit entities.

“To see if their property would qualify for a redevelopment of their property to serve their purposes and serve the community’s purpose to put additional housing on it,” he said.

Thunder Bay built 39 more units than its goal of 161 units last year, while Sudbury nearly doubled its target of 279 units by creating 436.

Across Ontario, the province set a target of 110,000 new homes to be ready for 2023. Latest statistics show it’s only short about 900 homes to meet that goal.

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