Photo: James Bombales

While GTA home prices have cooled over the past year, they’re still out of reach for many would-be buyers. And many industry experts believe that changes to zoning rules could hold the key to more affordable housing in the region.

One particular change that could make a difference? As-of-right development.

As-of-right development broadly refers to development which doesn’t require additional approval from a governmental planning body, as long as it complies with basic zoning regulations.

It was a key topic of discussion at the Ontario Real Estate Association’s 2018 Ontario Housing Summit, where Ryerson Centre for Urban Research and Land Development senior researcher Diana Petramala weighed in on its potential benefits.

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“While ‘as-of-right’ zoning may not be the perfect solution in every area, including the GTA, we need to consider changing zoning in areas that are out of date,” shared Petramala.

Much of the GTA’s current housing stock is made up large stretches of what is known as the “yellow belt” — areas of low-rise homes where higher density development is prohibited. According to Petramala, allowing mid-density development in these areas is a practical way to increase affordable housing stock in the GTA.

“Ultimately, the better way to get density in the GTA is to adjust zoning rules to allow for development in the area of low-rise homes,” she tells Livabl.

Earlier this month, the Ryerson City Building Institute released a report which found opportunities for the creation of 174,000 mid-density homes through the densification of Mississauga’s low-density “yellow belt” neighbourhoods.

If these homes were to be created, the city would meet its 2041 growth projections for an additional 435,000 residents. It’s a method that the report’s authors believe could be applied to other municipalities in the GTA.

“The method we employ is directly applicable in other municipalities,” write co-authors Graham Haines and Brianna Aird, in the report. “Using this same approach, other cities can create opportunities for families to live in desirable neighbourhoods close to transit, jobs, schools and services, while helping to protect the Greenbelt and contribute to a more sustainable region and the curbing of road congestion.”

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