Photo: James Bombales

Ontario needs to provide one million new residences within the next 10 years in order to meet demand, according to a research paper published by the Smart Prosperity Institute.

The Ottawa-based research and policy think tank provided projections for 49 Ontario communities on the potential demand for high-rise apartments and other housing types based on historical trends. The findings were gathered and published with the intention of informing policymakers and home builders.

The research paper, Baby Needs a New Home, was funded by the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (which has an obvious vested interest in the issue).

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To keep up with the formation of young families and housing supply shortages, Ontario will need to construct one million net new homes, according to Baby Needs a New Home. This includes 910,000 homes for the formation of new households, 65,000 units of housing to address current supply gaps and 25,000 properties for a “cushion for unanticipated additional population growth.”

“The goal of building one million new homes in the next ten years presents a challenge for Ontario,” said Mike Moffatt, senior director of policy and innovation at Smart Prosperity Institute, who authored the report. “However, the prize is substantial: ensuring an adequate supply of high-quality available and attainable housing, while at the same time driving economic prosperity and enabling climate action,” he added.

Photo: James Bombales

Between July 2019 and July 2020, 60,000 residents — the majority of which were parents with children under the age of five years old — moved from Peel Region and the City of Toronto to other areas of the province in search of family-friendly housing that met their needs.

Over the next 10 years, this migration is expected to continue for the 910,000 net new families that will form, the majority of which will consist of couples planning on having children. Of these households, Baby Needs a New Home says that 195,000 families will live in high-rise apartments and 715,000 will live in all other forms of housing. According to the report, the Ontario Ministry of Finance has projected that the province’s population will grow by 2.27 million more people across the next 10 years.

The research report estimates that there is an existing excess demand for 64,000 homes, “due to homebuilding not keeping up with population growth over the past five years.” Failure to build enough homes would result in an increase in the number of “young families driving until they qualify across the province in search of housing,” and make it difficult for Ontario to attract and retain the talent it needs to compete at the global economic level.

Photo: James Bombales

“The one million new homes that are needed over the next decade to respond and support young families can only happen if municipal councils approve the necessary mix of housing options in their communities,” said the CEO of the West End Home Builders’ Association, Mike Collins-Williams, in a press release. “We need to build up, in and out across Ontario.”

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