2024 Windsor Housing Stakeholder Letter to Mayor Dilkens

April 22, 2024
Mayor Drew Dilkens
City of Windsor
350 City Hall Square West
Windsor, ON N9A 6S1

Dear Mayor Dilkens:

We are writing you on behalf of the Windsor-Essex County Home Builders’ Association (WEHBA), the Windsor-Essex County Association of REALTORS® (WECAR), the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce (WERCC) and the Windsor Construction Association (WCA) regarding Windsor’s ongoing housing supply and affordability crisis. Together, we represent hundreds of residents and businesses who care deeply about our city and its future.

First, we would like to commend you for your commitment to tackling our housing affordability and supply challenges. The City’s application to the federal government’s Housing Accelerator Fund demonstrated a thoughtful and ambitious vision for how Windsor can reach its housing supply targets. We are particularly supportive of Windsor’s plans to move to as-of-right zoning along major arterial and transit routes.

Although progress is being made, more needs to be done to address Windsor’s housing affordability challenges. The economic revival of Windsor and Essex County, spurred by investments in key projects like the Gordie Howe International Bridge and the NextStar Energy EV battery plant, is drawing a wave of workers and new Canadians to our area. This influx, which is expected to bring over 6,000 new residents to our city annually over the next decade, highlights the urgency of building more homes.

While new workers and Canadians are flocking to Windsor, we are struggling to meet the demand for new housing. According to the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) from 2021 to 2023, Windsor recorded just 1,189 housing starts or an average of 396 housing starts annually. In short, over the last three years Windsor has achieved just 30 percent of its housing target (13,000 by 2031) and stands over 2,700 units behind its goal. To meet its target, Windsor must achieve 1,685 housing starts over the remaining seven years.

Windsor has a proud history of building homes. From 1995 to 2005, Windsor averaged 1,266 housing starts per year. This work helped make our city one of the most affordable in the region and a destination for new business investment. When it comes to building a large number of high-quality homes, Windsor has done it before, and we can do it again.

To build more homes local families can afford, we urge the City to take the following actions:

1. Strike a Windsor Housing Sector Building Liaison Group: Establish a formalized group comprising city officials, developers, builders, and housing advocates. This group would meet on a regular basis to facilitate ongoing dialogue, streamline housing projects, and identify innovative solutions to housing challenges. By bridging the gap between the city and the housing industry, we can expedite development processes and better respond to our community’s housing needs.

2. Cut Zoning Red Tape: Simplify and expedite the zoning process to encourage the development of diverse housing types. Reducing bureaucratic hurdles will enable developers to bring new projects online more quickly, increasing the supply of available housing and helping to stabilize prices. Reviewing our existing by-law to simplify and reduce red tape could be an early priority for the new Liaison Group.

3. Eliminate or Reduce Parking Minimums: Parking requirements often increase the cost and complexity of housing developments. By eliminating or reducing parking minimums, especially in transit-rich areas, we can make better use of valuable land, reduce development costs, and encourage the use of alternative transportation methods, aligning with our environmental and sustainability goals.

4. Hire More Planners: Investing in the City’s planning department by hiring more staff will help address the current backlog of projects awaiting approval. More support for planning staff will translate to quicker turnaround times for project reviews, permitting, and inspections, ultimately speeding up the pace at which new housing can be brought to market. In the event that labour market conditions make hiring new planning staff difficult, we suggest consideration be given to leveraging private sector planning firms/consultants for select work.

5. Sell Surplus City Land: We advocate for the strategic sale or lease of surplus city owned land for housing development, particularly for affordable and mixed-use projects. Utilizing these underexploited assets can significantly contribute to meeting our region’s housing needs while generating revenue for the city.

We recognize the challenges that our region’s growth and economic resurgence present, but we are confident that under your leadership, Windsor can implement effective solutions to solve our housing supply and affordability crisis.

Thank you for your unwavering commitment to Windsor. We look forward to working with you to build a stronger city.


Scroll to Top