Two major lobby groups for Ontario’s real estate industry are calling on the government to “hammer out a plan” to improve housing affordability in the Greater Toronto Area and providing their own recommendations.
“The Canadian dream of home ownership is at risk in the GTA,” says Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) — one of the two interest groups involved — in a statement.
Together with the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA), OREA wants the provincial government to establish a task force made up of housing experts who can come up with proposals for ways to create more housing supply in the province.
OREA and OHBA are already tabling these four recommendations.
1. Alter Ontario’s growth plan
Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe was created in part as an effort to curb sprawling low-rise communities, instead encouraging denser development. But critics say this has led to fewer single-family homes being constructed, resulting in prices that are out of reach for first-time homebuyers.
“Instead of a blanket provincial preference for high density, give municipalities more flexibility and create more choice in housing for growing families and empty nesters, such as family homes and townhomes,” the groups say in the news release.
2. Update the planning approvals process
OREA and OHBA also want municipalities and the province to be on the same page.
“With better alignment of municipal and provincial housing priorities, including the requirement for updated zoning around transit corridors, we can get new homes to the market quickly in exactly the places where we want them,” they continue.
3. Get innovative with zoning (laneway houses and more)
“There is huge opportunity to modernize outdated zoning laws and build the ‘missing middle’ of housing supply in existing communities that are connected to transit and closer to jobs,” the groups say.
Infill developments — homes constructed on underused parcels of land in already-urban areas, such as compact houses built off laneways and stacked townhouses — can offer alternatives to high-rise condo living.
The laneway house movement in particular has been gaining traction in Toronto, and a University of Toronto pilot project could mark a turning point for the housing type, which city zoning doesn’t currently allow (others Canadian cities, including Vancouver, do permit laneway homes).
4. Invest in infrastructure
OREA and OHBA see government spending on transit infrastructure as one of the ways to reduce the pressure low housing supply puts on pricing.
So does Ben Myers, senior vice president of market research and analytics at Fortress Real Developments.
“I’ve always pointed to additional transit spending,” he tells BuzzTV, BuzzBuzzNews’ Facebook Live broadcast, explaining improved transit lets people live further away from urban centres.
If more homes — and areas in general — are viable options for GTA househunters tethered to work in the downtown core, supply is effectively increased.