What should the Ontario government be doing to address the lowrise housing affordability and supply issue in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area?
We asked Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, and former Ontario MPP and leader of the provincial PC party.
Fix the ‘one size fits all’ Growth Plan
Ontario’s proposed amendments to the Growth Plan represent a paradigm shift in how our communities will evolve. The provincial decision to apply a “one-size fits all” approach to growth will impose Toronto-style intensification to more than 100 municipalities. Instead of a blanket provincial preference for high density, give municipalities more flexibility and create more choice in homes for growing families and empty nesters, such as family homes and townhomes.
Improve the planning approvals process
It can take up to 10 years to go through the government approvals process before we build the housing supply needed for our growing population. These unnecessary delays stall housing construction, leaving less housing supply available for people, while contributing to escalating prices. With better alignment of municipal and provincial housing priorities, including requiring updated zoning around transit corridors, we can get new homes to the market quickly in exactly the places where we want them.
Address the ‘missing middle’ of housing supply
Homebuyers increasingly face the choice of living in a highrise condo or single-family home community. But there is huge opportunity to modernize outdated zoning laws to build the “missing middle” of housing supply in existing communities that are connected to transit and closer to jobs. This includes innovative solutions such as laneway housing and multi-unit homes such as townhouses, stacked flats or midrise buildings. These are affordable and attractive options for Millennials or empty nesters, who would then put their family home onto the market.
Target infrastructure to support new housing supply
We already have plans for where all the new housing in the GTHA will be located up to 2031, but those designated growth areas don’t become homes until we can obtain local planning approvals and connect to water, sewers and storm water management services. Builders cannot turn over the keys to a new-home owner if you can’t flush the toilet or get your car to the driveway. The province should support new housing supply with targeted infrastructure investments.
Reduce the Toronto Land Transfer Tax
According to C.D. Howe, the Toronto LTT negatively affects housing supply because it incents potential home sellers to stay rather than list their property for sale. Instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars to move to a larger home, or downsize as an empty nester, Toronto homeowners are simply choosing to renovate or stay put. That means fewer starter homes come onto the market for young couples.