Ottawa REALTORS® Oppose Counterproductive City of Ottawa Development Charge Hike

May 14, 2024

Ottawa was the first city in Canada to declare a housing and homelessness emergency. Despite chronic affordability and supply issues, Ottawa’s city council is proposing an ill-timed and counterproductive increase in development charges.

The Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) strongly opposes the proposed increase and wants the city to reconsider a move that threatens to worsen the challenges facing prospective homebuyers. The ramifications of a cost increase will also be felt beyond the broader housing market in our community when businesses and services cannot adequately attract and retain staff due to a lack of housing.

Raising development charges will significantly increase the cost of new homes. These charges, intended to fund essential infrastructure like roads, water, and wastewater services, already add a substantial financial burden to new developments. Further hikes will lead to higher home prices and slow the construction of new homes — ultimately making homeownership less attainable for many Ottawa residents.

At a time when we should be expanding the housing supply and enhancing affordability, this proposal moves us in the opposite direction. It risks deepening the housing crisis, putting additional financial strain on families and individuals striving to buy their first home. It runs counter to the federal and provincial governments’ efforts to address housing issues through new funding initiatives that do not rely on increasing costs for consumers.

OREB recommends implementing more effective and equitable solutions to funding essential infrastructure without hindering housing development, including:

  • Capitalizing on federal and provincial funding programs designed to support municipal infrastructure projects without passing costs onto homebuyers.
  • Allowing water and wastewater services to be provided by municipal services corporations.
  • Changing city-wide policies to end exclusionary zoning, thereby allowing more diverse and affordable housing options to be built.
  • Encouraging higher density developments along transit corridors to maximize the use of existing infrastructure.
  • Helping switch underused commercial properties into residential spaces, increasing the housing supply without new land development.

OREB and its 4,000 member REALTORS® have insights and innovative solutions that promote housing affordability and supply and are committed to working with Ottawa’s city council, policy makers and housing partners to help more residents secure suitable housing.