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Make medium density housing a priority, report says

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Make medium density housing a priority, report says

More medium density housing must be made a priority, as the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is at risk of missing provincial population targets, according to a recent report. This would potentially result in 7,200 fewer new homes being built each year until 2041, which creates context for the recent introduction of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).

The report – The GTHA’s Unbalanced Housing Stock: Benchmarking Ontario’s New LPAT System – states that up to 165,600 homes are at risk of not being built over the next 23 years. That’s equal to an annual loss of $1.95 billion in GDP from residential construction activity if various constraints continue to inhibit the goals set by the provincial growth plan, Places to Grow.

Paul Smetanin, president of socio-economic research and data firm the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA), says an important factor that will prevent the region from hitting provincial homebuilding targets is the lack of medium-density housing starts, or the Missing Middle.

“Hamilton has made the most progress on the Missing Middle,” Smetanin says. “Toronto, Mississauga, Markham, Newmarket less so, while Brampton is biased towards lower density starts.”

There are a range of issues among the region’s most populous municipalities, including:

  • Only 15 per cent of GTHA households live in medium-density housing, which leads to an inadequate supply of appropriate housing types for a range of household sizes and budgets.
  • Toronto’s number of annual starts is five to 15 per cent higher than required to hit Places to Grow targets. However, the mix of housing is constrained by land, meaning the city’s supply will be highly skewed towards taller towers.
  • York Region is the only area in the GTHA with current annual starts on pace to meet its future target population.
  • Among municipalities with populations of more than 80,000 people, Oshawa, Brampton and Newmarket have the lowest share of higher-density starts.
  • Municipalities can better optimize infrastructure investments by ensuring that community growth planning is based on a long-term and strategic analysis of our future housing requirements.

“We commissioned the report because we wanted to find out what the possible impacts of LPAT will be on delivering housing,” says Andy Manahan, executive director of the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario. “We will work with provincial and municipal government officials to help ensure that the transition to the new LPAT system is as seamless as possible and does not create negative consequences for the housing supply in the province.”

RCCAO is a labour-management construction alliance which has advocated for infrastructure investment for 13 years, commissioning 48 independent, solutions-based reports and 10 videos to help inform decision-makers. To read the report, go to rccao.com/research/files/RCCAO_LPAT_REPORT_2018.pdf

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Delays in approval process contributing to housing affordability issue in GTA

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Delays in approval process contributing to housing affordability issue in GTA

Approval web

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.

This is among the key findings in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area Land Supply Analysis from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and Malone Given Parsons Ltd. (MGP).

“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.

Read more: 5 steps to solving the housing affordability issue in Ontario

Read more: Pent-up demand for townhomes building in the GTA

Read more: GTA new home market shows some improvement in September

“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.

Key observations

  • 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.

Recommendations

BILD and Malone Given Parsons offer six recommendations to help solve the issues:

  1. Make more vacant land available for new communities
  2. Cut bureaucratic red tape and reduce duplication in the planning and approval process
  3. Avoid pushing too much density to fringe areas and away from transit and existing infrastructure
  4. Encourage moderate or gentle intensification across the region by clarifying and amending Growth Plan policies to encourage intensification across the GTHA
  5. Maximize investment in transit and infrastructure
  6. 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.

 

 

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