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Ontario Premier Doug Ford has ruled out the possibility of allowing fourplex units throughout Ontario, a measure he believes would swiftly be opposed by residents already living in single-family suburban homes. 

Ford held a press conference in Richmond Hill on Thursday to announce an investment of over $1.8 billion in infrastructure to help speed up the construction of new homes in the province.

During the announcement, Ford confirmed that automatically allowing fourplexes province-wide was “off the table,” with Ford saying such a change would be a “massive mistake.”

It would allow for developers to build up to four-unit housing on a single property without municipal permission.

“I can assure you 1,000 per cent, you go into communities and start putting up four-storey, six-storey, eight-storey buildings right deep into communities, there’s going to be a lot of shouting and screaming,” said Ford.  

Ford noted that municipalities can still decide to allow these developments on their own – they simply won’t be mandated by the province.

Critics of Ford’s housing strategy claim he’s playing NIMBY politics, an acronym which stands for ‘not in my backyard.’

“Housing is much more scarce and expensive today than it was when he was first elected. By all measures that matter, he and his government have failed to improve the situation,” Toronto real estate developer Chris Spoke told True North.

“I think it’d be better for him and for the province as a whole if he recommitted himself to bold, productive action, to ‘get it done,’ rather than throwing his lot in with those people, who we call NIMBYs, who don’t want to get it done, who don’t want to see even gentle intensification within their neighbourhoods, and who would generally prefer a continuation of the status quo than increased affordability and opportunity for Ontarians.”

Ford’s own government commissioned a report from the Housing Affordability Taskforce in 2022 to tackle the issue of the housing crisis, and a policy change to allow the construction of fourplexes was one of the report’s recommendations. 

“Allow ‘as of right’ residential housing up to four units and up to four storeys on a single residential lot,” reads the report.

The report suggested that greenlighting found-unit buildings on a single residential lot would  “allow more kinds of housing that are accessible” to a broader swath of the population.

“It will get more housing built in existing neighbourhoods more quickly than any other measure,” it added.

Thus far, the Ford government has refused to implement the recommendation, despite the fact that it’s failing to meet its target of building 1.5 million new homes by 2031. 

“We’re going to build homes, single-dwelling homes and townhomes, that’s what we’re going to focus on,” Ford said on Thursday.

However, developers like Spoke say Ford has broken away from the promises which helped to get him elected. 

“Doug Ford spent the last six years establishing a narrative for his PC government as being the government interested in “building Ontario” and getting it done”. I think that narrative has served him very well politically and that it points to action that the province desperately needs,” said Spoke.

“We need more housing, more infrastructure, more hospitals, and so on. The comments he made yesterday and repeated today opposing permissions for fourplex development provincewide mark a significant break from that narrative.”