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City of Toronto councillors’ decision ‘irresponsible,’ will worsen housing affordability and supply problems

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City of Toronto councillors’ decision ‘irresponsible,’ will worsen housing affordability and supply problems

Toronto City Hall

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) is outraged by the announcement made today by City of Toronto councillors Joe Cressy, Mike Layton and Kristyn Wong-Tam. The trio said they would red light any development that supports council approved TO Core Plan, ignoring the direction given by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approved plans. These actions are a clear example of political interference that slows the development of new housing and increase costs.

Blatant disregard

“This blatant disregard of provincial policy is the opposite of a housing strategy, in fact it’s an anti-housing strategy,” says Dave Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD. “The net impact will add cost to the City, add cost to new home purchasers, increase the delays of much needed livable housing close to transit and lengthen approvals times as challenges and appeals are undertaken to ensure that the law is respected,” adds Wilkes.

It was the City of Toronto’s decision to file the Official Plan Amendment for TO Core with the province under Section 26 of the Planning Act. This rarely used mechanism requires ministerial approval and is non-appealable. Disliking the results of this decision, the councillor’s statements to developers that they will de-prioritize projects that are in accordance with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s decision and not the City’s version of the plan is like asking them to take sides in schoolyard spat. Councillors Cressy, Layton and Wong-Tam are disregarding the planning process, abdicating their responsibility and adopting planning by threat.

“The decisions to amend the official plans just prior to the last election was politically motivated and went against the recommendations of the City’s own planning staff,” says Wilkes.

Desperate need

“More housing is desperately needed to accommodate growth in the region. It makes sense for this type of housing to be built in places that can leverage existing investments in infrastructure and be transit supportive. We are calling on Toronto City Council to take the necessary steps to address housing supply and affordability in Toronto.”

The provincial government rightly recognizes that changes are desperately needed to provide adequate and affordable housing to a growing province. More than 115,000 new residents are expected in the GTA every year through 2041 and the population is set to grow by 40 per cent. Meeting this generation challenge will require policies that enable housing supply and affordability, not illegal actions that add cost, delays and restrict supply.

BILD is the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA. With more than 1,500 member companies, the industry provides $33 billion in investment value and employs 271,000 people in the region.

TREB reminder

The Toronto Real Estate Board is also concerned about the councillors’ decision.

“With some City of Toronto councillors announcing plans that could add obstacles to the creation of new housing supply in their wards, TREB is reminding all levels of government that housing supply is one of the most important issues in Toronto and the GTA, and is encouraging cooperation between governments,” the organization says. “TREB has been at the forefront in calling for governments to do what they can to ensure an adequate, appropriate and affordable supply of housing for the Toronto and GTA real estate markets.

“This is an issue that will require both provincial and municipal government efforts and policy initiatives from various perspectives, including minimizing unnecessary red tape, while maintaining the high quality of life that makes Toronto and the GTA such a desirable place to live, work, and play.  TREB is encouraging provincial and municipal decision makers to work cooperatively to make the interests of homebuyers their first priority.”

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