“They have to open up their zoning. On a municipal level, the zoning bylaws and requirements on density in certain neighbourhoods in Toronto and older parts of Oakville, they were done after the Second World War,” Paul D’Abruzzo, a Toronto-based investor, told Canadian Real Estate Wealth. “Some people that live in those neighbourhoods don’t want density because they like their single-family homes, but it’s a problem; it creates an environment where the people with single-family homes are in an exclusive clubs no one else can get into.”
With the Ontario budget expected to come as early as April 27, speculation has ramped up about what measures it will contain to address housing affordability in Toronto.
Government officials – including Premier Kathleen Wynne and Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa – have made it clear housing policy is coming.
And while many have speculated the province will target investors, likely through a foreign buyer tax or an increase to the capital gains tax, industry associations have long argued in favour of addressing barriers that impede homebuilding, including outdated zoning bylaws.
“One way to provide more affordable housing options for Ontarians is to remove the barriers that prevent municipalities from expediting the permit approval process for home builders. In Ontario, it can take over 18 months to get municipal approvals for standard, single-family and multiple-dwelling projects that may require rezoning,” Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, said. “Another solution is to invest in infrastructure to service housing ready land. We need to put more new builds and resale homes on the market faster, and the kinds of homes that first-time buyers and young families can afford, like townhomes, duplexes and stacked-townhomes.”
For his part, D'Abruzzo views investors as part of the solution for Toronto's affordability crisis.
"Places that need more affordable housing, obviously like Toronot and even Hamilton – their zoning is terrible – they need to update their zoning and provide a structure in their zoning to allow investors to come in and create secondary suites, accessory suites, and more dense housing," he said. "It’s profitable for them and it solves a big problem for the city."
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With the government intent on cooling Toronto’s hot housing market, a number of potential measures have been suggested; one investor has an idea about the best way forward.