Ahead of the municipal election, Toronto Mayor John Tory is coming down hard on a new housing plan to help solve the affordability crisis and get houses built faster.
The province’s housing affordability issues are largely due to a shortage of supply. Tory’s 5-step pillar strategy is poised to help expedite construction and the supply issue while targeting idle developers and the “missing middle.”
During an election platform announcement to reporters at the city’s Distillery District, Tory highlighted the importance of building more homes and how the city will tackle this hovering affordability crisis.
The five key points are as follows:
1. Expand housing options - Increase the construction of mid-range density homes, otherwise known as “Missing Middle” housing, on major roads and in areas served by transit. This includes the construction of duplexes, triplexes, mid-rises and walk-up apartment buildings. This also includes newly legalized garden suites as well as laneway housing, and exempting new developments with four units or less from development charges.
“This will be a reorganization of existing staff in the spin cycle of housing applications, thus bouncing back and forth between different divisions of the city government. The Development and Growth Division will allow us to be more nimble in getting projects approved,” Tory explained.
2. Create a Development and Growth Division - This new division at city hall will handle all aspects of the review and approval process. This will help push the building process to get more housing built faster by cutting red tape and speeding up approval times. The division would also prioritize and fast-track the approval of purpose-built rentals (See point five).
3. Enforce a “use it or lose it” policy for developers - Enforcing an approach that will force developers not to sit on already approved but undeveloped land. This means that land would need to be developed within a specific timeframe, or the developers risk losing their zoning approvals or potentially facing higher taxes.
4. Authorize more co-op, supportive and affordable housing - This includes granting a portion of city-owned land to non-profit developers. This will incentivize the construction of affordable housing options, including co-ops and supportive housing.
5. Incentivizing the construction of purpose-built rental housing - Includes reducing fees and charges and prioritizing purpose-built rental housing applications. With many newcomers landing in the city, Tory suggests that rental housing is essential to housing the incoming population. In order to house this new population, it is essential to build more homes faster, and create more affordable housing for them.
The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) is on board with Tory’s points. However, they critique the lack of movement made on the government taxes, fees, and levies that developers face when building in the Toronto-area. As per the Crown Corporation’s research, should these charges be removed, the cost of a Toronto home could be reduced by 10 - 24%.
With this 5-point plan, Mayor John Tory hopes to offset the affordability issue as well as the supply and demand issues.
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