Commentary: More robust growth plan needed in Toronto

The scarcity of housing in the red-hot Toronto market means that a more decisive and targeted strategy is required to address the needs of the most financially at-risk sectors, an observer warned.
In a January 3 contribution for The Globe and Mail, Ryerson City Building Institute executive director Cherise Burda argued that the existing regulatory regime is insufficient to answer the ever-increasing demand for affordable housing in Toronto.
“[There] is no shortage of land on which to build ground-related houses for decades to come. Rather, housing starts are being delayed due to costs and approvals and other barriers to servicing greenfield land – including building and connecting the infrastructure such as water and sewerage,” Burda explained.
“Add to this the lack of resale supply as boomers remain in their big houses instead of downsizing, not liberating this substantial supply of single-family homes in more proximate locations for younger generations, including their echo-boomer kids, many of whom ironically still live with them.”
Burda noted that purchases of properties not intended for primary housing are on the rise, now representing approximately 25 per cent of demand in the Toronto market. This has been a major factor in the price increases over the past few years, and policy should adapt accordingly.
“It would do little to de-bifurcate the GTA’s housing supply, which currently offers home-buyers a choice between a small condo in a high-rise or ‘drive-to-qualify’ for a detached house in the suburban fringe where family-sized houses are more affordable and most new supply is constructed.”
“What’s needed is missing-middle housing in urban and suburban centres close to transit and good jobs. This includes multiunit homes such as townhouses, stacked flats, mid-rise buildings and laneway housing that are family-friendly yet more affordable than semi- or single-detached houses.”

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