Toronto’s candidates for mayor have been pitching their ideas to voters on how they’ll address and bring down soaring prices for housing acutely affecting Toronto’s housing market.
The average price of a home in Toronto has soared in the past couple of decades, rising from an average price of $198,000 in 1996 to over a million dollars in recent years. Currently, the average price of a home in Toronto is over $1.1 million as prices continue to rise in recent months.
The housing crisis has been a major point for candidates to address in their campaigns, as now more than ever, the dream of owning a home seems more remote for a great number of Toronto’s residents.
The race’s frontrunner Olivia Chow says that she plans to have the city build 25,000 new rental properties subjected to rent control over the course of eight years.
Chow’s plan would see the city act as the building developer to build thousands of homes, many of which will be listed under the property’s market value.
60% of the proposed units would be one-bedroom properties, 30% would be two-bedroom properties, and 10% would be 3-bedroom properties.
Chow says that her plan will not add to the city’s expanding debts, as the plan would be supported by income generated from the tenants living in said properties.
Surging home prices and rents have created an affordability crisis.— Olivia Chow (@oliviachow) May 8, 2023
It’s harder than ever to find an affordable place to live in Toronto. Our city must act.
I’m prepared to take action by building 25,000 rent-controlled apartments—all on land the city already owns. pic.twitter.com/fwZTd8R9yL
Former police chief Mark Saunders says that the key to getting more homes built is to speed up the approval process to getting a building application through City Hall.
Saunders’ marquee promise on the housing issue is to cut the housing approval time down to one year. To achieve this goal, Saunders says he is open to using the new strong mayor powers granted to Toronto’s mayoralty by Premier Doug Ford.
“At the current rate of new affordable home starts, it will take another 45 years for Council to reach its 10-year goal of 40,000 units,” said Saunders.
“It’s clear City Hall is the first big barrier to getting home built quickly; so I pledge to use every tool and option at my disposal, including strong mayor powers, to tackle this issue if we don’t get moving on day one.”
Saunders would also allow condo developers build 1-2 more floors per condo building than currently allowed, waive the property tax on affordable housing units, among other tax incentives and affordability schemes.
Council has dragged their feet on rental housing. It’s time for a new approach to building more affordable, livable rental homes faster. pic.twitter.com/AomnjmmDQt— Mark Saunders (@marksaunders_TO) May 4, 2023
Toronto-St. Paul’s councillor Josh Matlow announced his plan to create a new municipal corporation called Public Build Toronto funded with $300 million in seed funding that would develop housing on land owned by the city.
Public Build Toronto would see the city develop housing in lieu of private housing developers to cut out the developer’s profits, a move in alignment with Matlow’s ideological opposition to landowners.
“Currently, most development on public lands is outsourced to private developers. With Public Build Toronto, by removing developer profits, the City will be able to build housing at cost on 25 million square feet of public land,” says Matlow.
Matlow’s plan would cap the number of vehicle parking spaces at 0.25 spaces per unit of housing, a policy that would force residents to seek alternative forms of transportation.
Since the City launched Housing Now, not one affordable home has been built.— Josh Matlow (@JoshMatlow) May 22, 2023
That's why I'll create Public Build Toronto, a City agency that develops housing on City-owned land at cost. Faster to build, easier to afford.
Read more here: https://t.co/MWjoHuHGlA pic.twitter.com/P3SeZCYGOy
Anthony Furey, who is currently on leave as True North’s VP of content and editorial, announced that he would make buying a home for newcomers entering the housing market easier by waiving the land transfer tax for first time homebuyers.
Furey says that the high price of a home in Toronto is an issue of there being a lack of supply in the housing market. He believes byreducing the government’s intrusion into the housing market, consumers would save as it’ll cost less to develop a home.
“My plan is to reduce red tape and the time it takes for projects to get improved, because time is money” said Furey in a comment to True North.
“This will increase supply and lessen costs, which always get passed on to the consumer.”
Furey went on to attack other candidates who have been making precise promises to build a certain number of units within a certain period of time, saying that making these types of promises is a failure to tell voters the truth.
“Any candidate who promises to build a certain number of units is failing to tell voters the truth. That’s just not how the housing market works.”
Former deputy mayor Ana Bailão’s housing plan consists of a plan to build homes, protecting rentors, and putting pressure on city hall to be accountable for the city’s progress on solving the housing crisis.
Bailão says that as mayor, she would create a number of projects to support Torontonians in need including the homeless and newcomers, as well as supporting renters through the creation of eviction prevention programs and by halting proposals at city hall that would demolish rental properties.
In line with the city of Toronto’s previous commitment to have built 285,000 homes by 2031, Bailão would set a target that a least 20% of these homes must be purpose-built rental homes.
Bailão would also seek to reform the city’s regulations and zoning laws that restrict the development of “missing middle” homes – single-family, multi-unit homes like multiplexes and townhouses – and create a new zoning designation exclusively for prospective rental property.
Brad Bradford also pressed the need to allow for “missing middle” mid-rise homes to be built, something he says could be done by simplifying the city’s complex zoning laws.
Bradford urges the need to eliminate red tape and governmental inefficiencies by empowering a Development and Growth division whose sole purpose would be to review and approve housing faster and streamline the pathway to project approval.
Bradford would also make it easier for vacant office spaces to be converted into housing by providing as-of-right zoning to eliminate a rezoning process and by eliminating guidelines and regulations that would slow down the conversion process.
As a former Mayor, @ScottAAitchison knows what it takes to be successful in the role.— Brad Bradford✌️ (@BradMBradford) May 24, 2023
As a federal leader on housing, he understands how important it is for Toronto’s next Mayor to have a solid plan to get homes built.
Thanks for the support, my friend! pic.twitter.com/puqEH2ZjFa
Former Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter released a five-point plan to creating more affordable housing quickly for those in need.
Hunter’s plan would see the city create the Toronto Affordable Housing Corporation, a municipal corporation that would be responsible for building rental property on city-owned lands to be listed below the market value.
Hunter’s five-point plan calls on the city to unlock public lands for new affordable housing, ending the multiplex ban, adding rental apartments on major streets and near campuses, speeding up building approval and construction, and protecting current renters.
Toronto’s voters will be able to have their voices heard during the June 26 byelection, where voters will take to the polls and pick a new mayor.