Delays in approval process contributing to housing affordability issue in GTA
The former Ontario government’s growth policies have had the unintended consequences of lengthening the land development and approval process in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), negatively impacting housing supply and affordability.
“Growth policies implemented by the former provincial government from 2006 and 2017 have reduced the amount of available land for new housing communities, increased land prices and have caused home prices to skyrocket,” says Dave Wilkes, president and CEO, BILD, referring to the 2006 and 2017 Growth Plans.
“Land use in the province of Ontario is highly regulated and the 2006 and 2017 Growth Plan changes have slowed down the approval process to bring new land on stream for new communities,” adds Matthew Corey, principal, MGP. “Increasing the supply of new land for housing is subject to a process that can take as long as a decade or more.”
The analysis is intended to provide an accurate accounting of greenfield land supply in the GTHA and Simcoe, to determine if the 2031 population and job forecasts of the Growth Plan will be achieved.
- The percentage of available land that has been approved for new housing communities in the GTHA is 4.5 per cent and decreasing.
- Some municipalities in the GTHA have yet to conform to the 2006 Growth Plan requirements, missing the 2009 target by nearly a decade, resulting in less housing being built across GTA municipalities versus Growth Plan forecasts.
- As land supply dwindles and as municipal delays increase, the value of serviced land has increased by more than 300 per cent since 2006.
- Existing low density neighbourhoods in the GTHA are resistant to intensification, pushing density to urban cores and to new communities near the fringes of the GTHA. The latter are far away from transit and infrastructure, putting a greater reliance on cars and increasing traffic congestion.
- More gentle density homes (stacked-townhouses and lowrise apartments) should be built within walking distance of transit in built-up areas of the GTHA. This will maximize investment in infrastructure and transit. However, community resistance to increased density makes building in this area time-consuming, expensive and subject to intervention at the municipal level.
BILD and Malone Given Parsons offer six recommendations to help solve the issues:
- Make more vacant land available for new communities
- Cut bureaucratic red tape and reduce duplication in the planning and approval process
- Avoid pushing too much density to fringe areas and away from transit and existing infrastructure
- Encourage moderate or gentle intensification across the region by clarifying and amending Growth Plan policies to encourage intensification across the GTHA
- Maximize investment in transit and infrastructure
- Provide greater certainty for future development by identifying the agricultural and rural lands in the inner-ring (Whitebelt) as future urban areas in the Growth Plan.