Photo: James Bombales
After a tight race, the results are in, and Toronto’s new 25-member city council has been officially elected, along with incumbent Mayor John Tory. But what will the new slate of councillors mean for the city’s housing market?
The previous 44-member council had been comprised of enough centre-right councillors to give Mayor John Tory a majority when it came to voting on certain key items. And one of the Mayor’s signature policies has been a decision to keep property taxes at-or-below the rate of inflation.
Housing Market News Alerts
Sign up for news alerts on the Toronto housing market
During the campaign the Tory pledged to continue to keep property taxes low if re-elected. Meanwhile progressive councillors — chiefly Gord Perks, Mike Layton, Kristyn Wong-Tam and Joe Cressy, who were all re-elected last night — have long argued that keeping taxes low means that the city does not have the revenue it needs to tackle major projects like the construction of new transit and affordable housing.
The newly elected council — which mainly consists of incumbent candidates, with only four new faces — includes 11 councillors with a history of voting in favour of keeping property taxes low, with nine councillors who might argue in favour of raising them. The four new councillors represent an unknown voting block, while incumbent councillor Paul Ainslie has long been a swing vote on council.
Tory will need a 14-vote majority to keep property taxes down, so it remains to be seen if he will be able to keep this key campaign promise. Another pledge that may or may not come to pass, depending on the support of council members? The creation of more affordable rental stock.
Despite provincial rent control legislation introduced in the spring of 2017, the city’s rents have continue to rise. The average condo rent jumped 9.7 percent year-over-year last quarter, bringing the average price-per-square-foot to $3.26.
Tory had promised to expand the existing Open Door program if re-elected. Currently, the program aims to create 1,000 new subsidized rental units a year. An expansion would aim to create 40,000 units over 12 years.