– Conference Board of Canada, 2023

The City of Windsor, and surrounding region, is experiencing unpresented growth spurred by various economic development and large-scale infrastructure projects in the works. The Windsor Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) population stands at nearly 425,000 – an increase of over 17,000 from October 2020. In 2023, approximately 4,400 new residents moved to the Windsor CMA over a five month period – surpassing the total for the entirety of 2022. That data is clear; individuals, families and businesses want to be here. What’s also clear is that there are significant housing supply and affordability challenges that many first-time home buyers are now facing.

Everyone has a role to play in addressing the housing crisis impacting communities across the country. That’s why in 2022, Premier Ford and the Province of Ontario announced more than $45-million for a new Streamline Development Approval Fund to help municipalities modernize, streamline, and accelerate processes for managing and approving housing applications. The province has set targets for 29 fast-growing municipalities to ensure Ontario achieves its overall goal of building 1.5 million new homes in a decade. Windsor is on that list, and expected to help realize 13,000 new homes by 2031. That’s why the City of Windsor has encouraged everyone to take a collective approach to finding solutions to increase land supply, reduce permit processing times, remove red tape and administrative barriers, and build more homes… all as part of our efforts to deliver housing for people to live, grow and build in our community for generations to come.

– Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens

In an ongoing effort to increase the supply of housing and meet aggressive housing targets for the community, members of City Council and members of City Administration have identified a list of municipal lands owned by the City of Windsor that are available for development. In 2023, the City began a process to review municipal lands throughout the community that could support developments aimed at addressing the housing crisis in Canada. That review identified several properties with significant and immediate potential for development covering all types of housing needs, including affordable housing and missing middle housing. These sites include:

1. Former W.D. Lowe Secondary School
874 Giles Boulevard East | Ward 4

2. Caron Avenue Parking Lot
Caron Ave Parking Lot at Caron Ave & University Ave | Ward 3

3. Pelissier Street Parking Lot
Pelissier St Parking lot between Wyandotte St W & Elliott St | Ward 3

4. Roseland Clubhouse and Parking Lot
455 Kennedy Drive | Ward 1

5. Former Windsor Arena
572 McDougall Street | Ward 3

6. Former Grace Hospital Site
339 Crawford Ave | Ward 3

As part of the overall Housing Solutions Made for Windsor plan, the process to identify potential lands was initiated by Mayor Dilkens requesting Council colleagues to provide input and submit any properties located within their wards for consideration. Following this, Council met in-camera on February 12, 2024, to review and form consensus on the current list representing the first group of properties that are best suited, and furthest along in the planning process to achieve the goal of supporting the development of more homes, faster.

Mayor Dilkens and City Council remain committed to vital public consultation to help ensure that any development undertaken throughout this process is complementary to and respectful of the integrity of established neighbourhoods and the quality of life for residents while also benefitting surrounding areas of the community with consideration and with added amenities in some instances. Additionally, any funding brought in from the sale of land will be considered for reinvestment in adjacent amenities.

Council also remains steadfast in its commitment to taking a collective approach to finding solutions to increase land supply, remove red tape and other barriers, reduce permit processing times, and build more homes. While each of the properties being brought forward are at various stages of the approval process, and some will come online sooner than others, the City will issue Expressions of Interest as soon as each property is deemed shovel-ready. To streamline the process, a special Developer Registration site has been set up to connect the development community with these targeted opportunities and all future development opportunities through the Housing Solutions Made for Windsor plan.

The properties listed above are the first that City administration will move towards preparing for residential developments with all necessary approvals ready for development. The City will also continue to review other available municipal lands to identify further opportunities to support evolving housing needs in the community. 

As part of Housing Solutions Made for Windsor, the City launched the Caron Avenue Site EOI, which represents the first of several opportunities to support evolving housing needs in the community. The EOI invites developers and proponents to submit comprehensive proposals that align with Windsor’s vision of smart housing solutions for sustainable, inclusive, and community-oriented development. Proposals will be accepted through the EOI from Friday, May 31, 2024, through Friday, August 23, 2024, with all relevant information available at LetsTalk.CityWindsor.ca/housing-solutions-made-for-windsor. The Caron Avenue Site is part of a growing list of municipal lands identified as ideal for residential development to support evolving housing needs in Windsor. This site offers a unique opportunity for high-density residential and mixed-use development. The launch of the EOI highlights the City’s commitment to sustainable growth, economic diversification, and enhancing the quality of life for residents. Additionally, developments at this site align with the Strengthen the Core: Downtown Windsor Revitalization Plan and efforts to make our downtown safe, clean, and attractive for new investments, businesses, and residents. This EOI is the first among several planned developments, signaling an ongoing investment in Building Windsor’s Future, and underscoring the City’s support for innovative and community-focused development projects.

The City of Windsor launched its Vacant Home Tax (VHT) program in June 2024. Complementing the Housing Solutions Made for Windsor plan, this initiative is aimed at increasing housing supply and reducing vacancy rates. The VHT will apply to residential properties that are determined to have remained unoccupied for more than 183 days in a calendar year without meeting the criteria for exemption. A tax of 3% of the assessment value of the property for the Vacancy Reference Year, as determined by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), will be billed and payable in the following calendar year. For this program rollout in the 2024 Billing Year, the City will calculate the VHT as 3% of the 2023 assessment value for a residential property that was vacant in 2023. This program will run annually, with the net revenue generated from this initiative being re-invested into the City’s housing initiatives, including those outlined in the Housing Solutions Made for Windsor plan endorsed by City Council. The VHT program is designed to be community-driven and will not require all property owners to complete a mandatory declaration of occupancy status. Only those properties suspected to be unoccupied will require the property owners to complete a declaration. A fine of $3,500 will be issued to any property owner who deliberately falsifies information on or in relation to a mandatory declaration. Through implementation of the VHT program, Council seeks to build on Windsor’s efforts to reduce the number of vacant properties, thereby increasing the available housing supply and helping the City meet its aggressive housing targets. These efforts are expected to lower vacancy rates and ensure that residential spaces are used efficiently, benefiting the entire city. This new measure underscores the City’s commitment to ensuring that every available residential space contributes positively to the community’s evolving housing needs.

“The Vacant Home Tax is just one of the many tools we are leveraging as part of our Housing Solutions Made for Windsor plan,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. “This initiative will help increase housing supply, meet our housing targets, and ultimately create more vibrant neighbourhoods across the city. As we continue to experience an incredible growth trajectory in Windsor, Council remains focused on innovative local solutions to the housing crisis. We look forward to seeing the positive impacts this will have on our efforts at Building Windsor’s Future.”

  • Adopted the Home Together: Windsor Essex Housing and Homelessness Master Plan.
  • Adopted a comprehensive amendment to its Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw that identified “Intensification Priority Areas” made up of Mixed Use Centres (260 ha.), Mixed Use Corridors (50 km) and Mixed Use Nodes (137 ha.) to support housing targets.
  • Received housing targets from the Province of Ontario as one of the 29 fastest-growing municipalities to help the province reach a goal of realizing 1.5 million new homes in a decade.
  • Committed to supporting 13,000 new housing units by 2031 as part of its Housing Pledge to the provincial government.
  • Commissioned an independent housing needs assessment report.
  • Identified 1000 acres and nearly 50 km of arterial roads with bus routes available for developments aimed at densification make sense for Windsor. 
  • Identified and released a list of municipal lands that are ideal for development to support housing, particularly affordable housing and missing middle housing, as part of the Housing Solutions Made for Windsor plan.
  • Hosted a Roseland Golf Club Building and Parking Lot Development Public Information Centre March 7, 2024, and launched an online survey through March and the start of April 2024 to gather input from community members and stakeholders.
  • Launched the Caron Avenue Site EOI.
  • Released the second list of properties in the Housing Solutions Made for Windsor plan – Former Windsor Arena, and the Former Grace Hospital site.
  • Launched the Vacant Home Tax program.