6 Ontario municipal elections to watch regarding housing
By Wayne Karl
The countdown is on – just days to go to the 2018 Ontario municipal elections. In Toronto, in what’s shaping up to be a two-horse race between Mayor John Tory and challenger Jennifer Keesmaat, housing is one of the key issues.
But it’s not the only city or town in and around the GTA where real estate development is a hot topic.
Here’s a select list of a few more municipal elections to watch, and we might as well start with the biggest and highest profile municipality:
Incumbent: John Tory
Challenger: Jennifer Keesmaat
What’s at stake: Housing affordability, or the lack thereof. Both Tory and Keesmaat have announced plans to address the growing affordability issue in the city – what some describe as a crisis. Keesmaat wants to build 100,000 units of “truly affordable, high-quality housing in the next 10 years.” This is a plan some sources in the industry have already declared as doomed to fail.
Tory proposes to build 40,000 affordable rental units over 12 years, or roughly 3,300 annually.
Home builders have been lobbying the City and the Province to address land supply and other policies which complicate this already complex issue.
Incumbent: Frank Scarpitti
Challenger(s): Steven Chen, Shan Hua Lu, Abdul Rahman Malik, Jawed Syed
What’s at stake: As the fourth most populous community in the GTA after Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton, Markham has been a hotbed for economic growth and development for years. It has also become one the most expensive housing markets, with median home prices of almost $1 million for the third quarter of 2018, according to Royal LePage. And Scarpitti, first elected in 2006 and known as developer- and builder- friendly, has been there through much of it.
Incumbent: Linda Jeffrey
Challenger(s): Mansoor Ameersulthan, former Ontario PC Party leader Patrick Brown, Baljit Gosal, Wesley Jackson, Vinod Kumar Mahesan, John Sprovieri
What’s at stake: Brampton is booming, and Jeffrey is seeking a second term after winning the 2014 election with almost 50 per cent of the vote.
Vision 2040 is an ambitious long-term plan to reinvent Brampton, and includes transformations such as model new neighbourhoods connected by an expanding transit network, new core loop, walking and cycling networks, communities designed to promote walking, and a new eco-park and sustainability built into everything.
There’s also a significant education infrastructure project that will bring a new Ryerson University campus, with Sheridan College as an academic partner, to downtown Brampton for 2022. Oh, along with thousands of students.
Incumbent: Jeremy Williams
Challenger(s): Sandy Brown, Darrin Davidson
What’s at stake: Been to Orangeville lately? It’s no longer a sleepy little pit-stop town as you drive north to Collingwood or Georgian Bay.
With new home and community development taking place, particularly in the west part of town, the biggest challenge Orangeville faces is urbanization. Williams wants to preserve the small town feel and welcome development, while avoiding becoming a discount housing destination for people moving north out of the Toronto area.
Brown, a local realtor, likely understands the issues, and wants to “arrest out of control spending.” He says Orangeville residents pay the highest property taxes in the GTA.
Incumbent: Current mayor of Oshawa John Henry has given up his seat to run as Durham’s regional chair
Challenger(s): Kenneth Carruthers, Dan Carter, Joe Ingino, Adam Kunz, Sara Lear, Rosaldo Russo, Bob Rutherford
What’s at stake: In short, continued growth in population and economic diversity, which drive housing demand. Oshawa’s population grew to 379,848 in 2016, according to the 2016 Census, up 6.6 per cent from 2011. This is second in the entire province only to Guelph – and even ahead of Toronto at 6.2 per cent.
Oshawa is expected to boast one of the fastest growing economies in the province this year, with growth of 2.6 per cent, according to the Conference Board of Canada. And this is down from 3.2 per cent in each of the last two years.
In terms of housing development, several builders are active in the area with lowrise homes. Homebuyers are liking the comparative bargains and the proximity to Toronto.
Incumbent: Jeff Lehman
Challenger: Ram Faerber
What’s at stake: Lehman is seeking his third term, while local businessman Faerber is looking to unseat him.
Barrie ceased being a weekend destination years ago, and has become a favourite among real estate investors for its population growth and the job opportunities that come with a growing and increasingly diverse local economy.
However, as a smaller centre (population of 197,059,up 5.4 per cent from 2011), Barrie is sometimes subject to market swings. Median home prices slipped five per cent for the third quarter of 2018, from the same period last year, to $505,136. Some shorter-term good news, however, is that prices are up 0.4 per cent from the second quarter of this year.
Wayne Karl is Senior Digital Editor at Homes Publishing. firstname.lastname@example.org