Housing supply a top priority in the GTA

Housing needs to be a priority in the Greater Toronto Area. Through 2041, the GTA is expected to be one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in North America, with approximately 115,000 net new residents per year. Where all these new people will live is one of the biggest challenges the region needs to grapple with, especially given the present tight housing supply and the pace of new home building, which is mired by bureaucracy and red tape. How policy makers, urban planners, developers and existing residents address the housing supply challenge will shape lives and communities for the next generation.

In about a month, candidates for municipal elected office will begin to declare their intention to run in this year’s municipal election. In the run-up to the election, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) will profile some of the challenges facing housing supply in the region to help inform readers and spur discussions on this important topic.

TELLING RESULTS

To understand public sentiment, BILD recently asked attendees at the National Home Show to share their thoughts and opinions about housing issues in the GTA. We received input from more than 1,000 attendees and, given the housing market over the last few years, the results were telling.

For those people we engaged, affordability of housing remains a high priority, but surprisingly almost half the respondents were not aware of municipal taxes and fees levied on new home development that are embedded in the final price of the home. When informed of the existence of these added costs, almost two-thirds of people underestimated the impact of these embedded taxes on the final sale price of a new home.

Our engagement also revealed an expectation gap. The overwhelmingly stated preference of housing by respondents was for larger dwellings in less dense communities, or the more traditional single-family home, but because of government intensification targets, significantly less of these types of homes are being built today than even a decade ago. The result is high demand and high price for fewer inventory options.

Lastly, the appetite for local action was palpable. More than two-thirds of respondents felt that local governments are not doing enough to encourage the building of homes that people can afford, and less than one-quarter felt that municipalities and councillors are doing enough to appropriately plan for future housing requirements in the region.

CONCERNS FOR FUTURE

This sentiment appeared driven by concerns shared by almost three-quarters of respondents on their (or their children’s) ability to purchase a home in the GTA in the future. Not surprising, then, more than two-thirds of respondents indicated they would support municipal council candidates who pledged to fix the housing supply issue as part of their election platform.

While this was not scientifically structured third-party-conducted research, it does outline that people are concerned about housing and that municipal candidates need to engage on the topic.

The lead-up to decision day provides all of us with opportunities to have a discussion on the future of the GTA and housing’s role in shaping the communities where we live, work and play.

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