Toronto’s Expected Population Boom Will Need to See Houses Built Fast
The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is expected to grow fast in the coming decades and we have many reasons to celebrate this population boom.
New residents bring their skills and talents, and they spur economic growth from which we all benefit.
We should be building a healthy supply of new homes equally fast so that newcomers and established residents can find places to live at prices they can afford. Unfortunately, as things stand, getting new homes to market in the GTA is a process hindered by red tape and lengthy delays.
In order to get approvals for a new project, developers have to navigate layers of government regulation. On the municipal level alone, they go through 15 major approval steps to complete a townhouse complex or a single-family home, and nine major steps for a highrise building.
To be clear, our industry supports regulation that ensures safe, well-built projects. The problem arises when avoidable delays in the approvals process hold up housing projects.
As an example, many development applications hit a snag when they are reviewed for compliance with the municipality’s zoning bylaws. Because zoning bylaws are not updated regularly, a development application could meet provincial intensification targets — and even the municipality’s own official plan — yet still not comply with outdated zoning bylaws. This means that the developer has to apply for variances or amendments, which often translates into delays. To give a recent example, a condo and townhouse project in a Toronto neighbourhood, representing about 200 units of new housing, had months added to its timeline because the developer had to apply for more than 20 bylaw variances.
Provincial regulations can also create unnecessary delays in bringing new homes to market. In York Region, for instance, communities have been waiting since 2014 for an environmental assessment approval from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change for a sewage solution project that is intended to service Aurora, Newmarket and East Gwillimbury. Without this crucial piece of infrastructure, new housing development in the area is stalled.
What do these delays and red tape mean for you? It means housing is slow to come to market, and if you are looking for a new home to buy, you have fewer options to choose from.
Delays also add tens of thousands of dollars to developers’ costs, so your new home will ultimately cost more.
And delaying the building of new housing means that your municipality misses out on the tax revenues that new residents would bring, which translates to less funding for community needs like transit, libraries and emergency services.