OREA’s report cited that Ontario needs to build 1.2 million homes to meet its population needs and 1.5 million more homes to improve affordability.Photo: bakerjarvis / Adobe Stock

Ontario’s election is less than a month away, and the province’s real estate organization has called on election candidates to focus on housing needs for future Ontarians.

In a recent statement, the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) asked this year’s political parties and election candidates to prioritize housing policies that will “ensure future generations have a shot at owning a home.” In a report titled 2022 Election Housing Platform: A Home for Everyone, OREA outlined eight solutions that it says would support housing affordability in the province, which includes plans to create more dwellings, protect consumers and make homes greener.

According to OREA’s report, 12 out of Ontario’s 36 real estate markets have an average home price over $1 million dollars. Ontario home prices have reportedly tripled (up 180 per cent) over the last decade, but average household incomes have increased 38 per cent by comparison. Just over half of Ontario households have at least one adult child living at home, while four in ten parents have helped their child financially for a home purchase.

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“High-prices are driving young families right out of the province to find a home they can afford,” said Tim Hudak, CEO of OREA, in a press release.

“Ontario stands to lose its edge as one of the most attractive places to raise a family or start a business because of the runaway cost of housing. For a political party to win in June, they need to show voters they have the solutions for Ontario’s housing affordability crisis,” he added.

OREA’s report cited that Ontario needs to build 1.2 million homes to meet its population needs and 1.5 million more homes to improve affordability.

One of the proposed solutions OREA put forward is the end of exclusionary zoning, which limits gentle density in urban areas. OREA explained that single-family zones can inflict “unnecessary and extreme density limitations,” in certain areas. Restrictive zoning in urban centres therefore contributes to urban sprawl as growth is pushed into farmland within rural and suburban communities.

“The Province should use the Planning Act to implement as-of-right zoning in Ontario’s highest-demand urban neighbourhoods to allow for the building of duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes on lots traditionally zoned for single-family housing,” said OREA’s report.

The Ontario Housing Delivery Fund, a key policy that came from the Housing Affordability Taskforce report, was one of the eight suggestions OREA outlined in its 2022 election platform. The delivery fund would align efforts with the federal government and other municipalities to reward housing growth that meets or exceeds provincial targets.

To meet demand from the province’s growing population, the real estate association has proposed that underused commercial properties be converted into mixed-use projects and residential homes.

“Across Ontario, the majority of these retail properties are located at the heart of rural, suburban, and northern communities, and are already serviced by infrastructure, have larger footprints due to parking spaces, and have existing interconnectivity with transit,” said the report. “In many cases, they are perfect locations for residential properties and mixed-use developments.”

OREA also recommended that the Land Transfer Tax (LTT) rebate for first-time homebuyers be doubled from $4,000 to $8,000 in order to keep up with fast-rising home prices.

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