According to new public opinion research released by the Building Industry and Land Development Association, 71 per cent of respondents agree with expanding municipal boundaries to facilitate the construction of more housing.Photo: sleg21 / Adobe Stock

Creating more residences and infrastructure in the Greater Toronto Area has been a central theme of the affordable housing conversation. New research shows that the majority of people who live in the GTA agree that there is an underlying home shortage problem in the region and that more housing should be built.

According to new public opinion research released by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), 71 per cent of respondents agree with expanding municipal boundaries to facilitate the construction of more housing at the periphery of GTA municipalities. Seventy-eight per cent of those surveyed said that they agree with the construction of more roads and highways to support residents and growth in the Toronto region.

The research survey was conducted by IPSOS with 1,000 GTA residents in March.

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“It is not a question of choosing between building more homes to accommodate a growing population and protecting the environment,” said Dave Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD, in a press release. “While those opposed to taking the necessary steps to accommodate the GTA’s present and future growth like to present these as stark ‘either-or’ decisions, the reality is that with modern land development, building techniques and regulatory requirements, we know it is possible to balance both.”

The IPSOS survey found that 92 per cent of GTA residents agree that we are in the middle of a housing affordability crisis. Four out of five respondents — 81 per cent — acknowledged that we are also in a housing shortage crisis. An equal percentage of those surveyed agreed that there must be a balance between environmental regulation with the need to build more homes more quickly.

However, the survey results show that a significant portion of residents were still against new housing in some cases. Fifty-five per cent of residents said that they opposed the construction of a high-rise apartment within half a kilometre of their home, while 47 per cent of GTA residents were against the construction of a mid-rise apartment within the same half-kilometre distance of their residence.

“There is almost unanimous agreement that the GTA is suffering from a housing supply and affordability crisis and that adding supply is the solution,” said Wilkes. “This must be done by adding gentle density in existing communities and enabling new, denser, more land-efficient development at the peripheries of GTA municipalities.”

“This research demonstrates to our leaders that the public supports the idea that growth and environmental protection can be balanced,” he added.

Based on the survey results, 44 per cent of those who live in the GTA said that they were aware of the regulatory framework that governs the environmental aspects of building new homes. About a third of GTA respondents — 35 per cent — felt that building a new housing community is bad for the environment.

According to BILD, when these groups were made aware of the regulatory requirements and industry environmental practices for new home construction, more than a third “were less likely to believe building homes harms the environment.” This rose to over half when told about new home energy efficiency.

“There is a clear disconnect between perception and reality,” said Sean Simpson, senior vice president of IPSOS Public Affairs, in the press release. “The majority of GTA residents clearly favour the addition of more housing supply and transportation infrastructure.”

Simpson added that of those who believe that building homes harms the environment, 56 per cent are “not aware of the regulations and practices already in place to protect the environment.”

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