28 Jul HOUSING – THE KEY TO A LIVEABLE CITY
Toronto’s population is rapidly growing, and our housing supply has not kept pace. Nor are there adequate plans in place to provide housing in response to the provincial, national and international migration into our city. We have one of the least affordable housing markets in Canada and our rental vacancy rates are the lowest they’ve been in 16 years.
I want a Toronto where young families have somewhere to settle, where there are places for artists and musicians to live and work, where teachers find housing near our schools, where the people that keep our city running can afford to live near their workplaces, and where our seniors have options allowing them to live at home as they age.
My housing platform consists of the following:
1. Reversing Homelessness
It’s simple. Without homes for the growing population in Toronto, homelessness results. People end up on the streets, camped in our parks or chronically in and out of hospitals and jails. We pay for these negative consequences through our taxes. In the long term we must build up our long term housing supply, and in the short term we need to respond to those who require emergency and transitional shelter. As mayor, I would:
- Accelerate the city of Toronto’s shelter strategy and support small shelter development (less than 100 beds).
- Ensure shelter capacity is reduced to the city council target of 90%.
- Ensure temporary respite sites (e.g. the new domes) meet city standards and are adequately staffed.
- Develop a climate change strategy for heat and old alerts to open emergency warming/cooling centres.
- Promote a housing first strategy for vulnerable people on our streets and support non profit housing providers who are experienced and equipped with the resources to keep this population housed.
- Harmonize the rules regarding rooming houses across the city so as to eradicate dangerous conditions in unregulated homes and turn rooming houses into a safe and affordable housing option for low and moderate income people.
2. Increasing the Affordability and Availability of Housing
While private developers play an important role in providing a large housing supply, relying on the market has not resulted in the truly affordable housing that is needed for many in Toronto. The wait list for subsidized housing in Toronto is already unacceptable, and a further 58,500 homes could reach a critical state of disrepair if the backlog at Toronto Community Housing (TCH) is not addressed.
At the same time, as home ownership becomes increasingly unattainable the need for new rental housing grows. I believe we must take a strong government role while working with the development industry to encourage the creation of the housing stock our city needs.
As mayor, I would commit to working with city staff, council, and senior levels of government to:
- Fix the TCH repair backlog immediately. I will advocate for the provincial and federal government to step in with the financial resources they should be providing, but in the meantime will ensure that the city will finance these repairs and proceed with them now. The cost is forecast at at $1.73 billion over the next 10 years – which works out to about $12 per day per tenant.
- Adopt inclusionary zoning to ensure all new developments have a minimum 25% of units designated and built as truly affordable.
- Set a standard definition of “affordable housing” in line with provincial and federal definitions, that more accurately reflects the needs of low and moderate income Torontonians.
- Expand incentives and reduce fees to encourage necessary rental housing developments.
- Grant municipal land to not-for-profits and community land trusts to create mixed-income housing, a model successfully used around the world.
3. Ensuring Vibrant Neighbourhoods
We need to balance the need for housing with the desire of residents to protect their neighbourhoods. Currently we overburden some areas with too many high towers and not enough community amenities, schools or city services. At the same time, we prevent minor changes in much of the current city – often called “the yellow belt” – that would result in increased housing supply and more inclusive communities.
Long term gentle density increases can be done in a way that preserves green space and keeps additional car traffic to a minimum. Such increases can provide housing for students, seniors and young families while helping bring house prices back to an affordable level. According to the Board of Trade, if just one additional ground level home were added per hectare, Toronto could house 45,000 more people.
As mayor, I would work with city council and staff to enact citywide zoning changes to allow and incentivize when necessary:
- The “missing middle” – duplexes to small apartments in areas where they are not the current dominant form.
- Laneway suites in all areas with suitable laneways.
- Accessory dwellings and secondary suites.
- Successful pilots and innovations from other cities to address over and underhousing.
- Regulations and incentives, such as those previously offered by the province, to build low carbon, carbon neutral, and carbon sink housing.
As mayor, I will ensure city government takes a more active role to ensure housing is available for people of all income levels. Doing so will make Toronto a more affordable, attractive, competitive, and humane place to live.