Unveiling housing strategies: Toronto’s mayoral candidates’ plans explored for realtors

By John Lusink | June 20. As seen featured in Real Estate Magazine

The Toronto housing crisis is a multifaceted issue that encompasses a range of underlying factors. Rapidly increasing demand, coupled with limited supply, has contributed to soaring housing prices and affordability challenges. 

As the Toronto mayoral election approaches, I felt compelled to delve into the housing platforms presented by some leading candidates. I believe that the solution does not lie in any individual candidate’s platform but in a synergistic combination of their distinctive proposals. 

In the following analysis, I highlight the key strengths of the platforms presented by three mayoral candidates and provide my perspective on the potential implementation of these plans. The recommendations provided below should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any specific candidate.

Olivia Chow: Promoting affordable housing and removing barriers to development

Candidate Olivia Chow’s City Homes plan focuses on the critical need for affordable and rental housing that is accessible to families across all income levels. While the plan is robust, several measures must be put in place to enact the recommendation. This could include introducing policies that support purpose-built rental housing, such as tax incentives and reduced development charges. Partnerships with developers, coupled with financial incentives, can also be encouraged to promote the construction of purpose-built rental buildings. 

Chow also proposes streamlining the approval process to reduce barriers to housing development. To achieve this, several actions can be taken:

  1. Review and streamline regulations related to development, building codes and permitting processes to help reduce costs and timelines.
  2. Simplify and clarify planning regulations, providing greater clarity to developers and investors.
  3. Collaboration with stakeholders to identify and address barriers to housing development is also crucial, as it will enable the exploration of other potential solutions to deliver much-needed housing units in a more timely and efficient manner.

Brad Bradford: Unlocking of government-owned lands to increase land supply

Candidate Brad Bradford’s idea of unlocking government-owned lands for housing construction is another practical approach to addressing the shortage of affordable housing. To effectively implement this idea, I believe fostering collaborations between the public and private sectors is essential. By working together, these sectors can leverage their respective resources, expertise, and land for housing development. Through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), the government can provide the necessary land, while private developers contribute their expertise and resources to expedite the construction of housing units.

Furthermore, by entering into partnerships with developers, the government can streamline the construction process and maximize efficiency. Joint ventures will also enable the pooling of resources, allowing for quicker and more effective development on publicly owned land and facilitating the timely delivery of housing units.

Lastly, engaging in innovative financing mechanisms is also critical. Land lease arrangements can be explored, where the government leases the land to developers for a specified period providing developers with access to the land while allowing the government to retain ownership. Additionally, land value capture strategies can be implemented, where the government captures a portion of the increased land value resulting from the development. These captured funds can be reinvested into supporting further housing development initiatives.

Mark Saunders: Federal grant programs to address funding gaps

Candidate Mark Saunders’ proposal of exploring federal grant programs for funding gaps is a strategic approach to addressing financial challenges in housing projects. Through his proposed federal ‘last-mile’ grant program, there is an opportunity to secure additional funding and ensure the successful completion of these projects. 

Saunders also aims to redefine the definition of ‘infrastructure’ used by the Canada Infrastructure Bank to include housing. By expanding the scope of what is considered infrastructure, more funding opportunities could become available for housing projects.

Lastly, Saunders plans to collaborate with the provincial government to simplify the loan acquisition process for non-profit organizations seeking loans from Infrastructure Ontario for new rental housing projects. This simplification would eliminate the requirement for municipal guarantees, making it easier for non-profits to secure necessary financing.

Conclusion: A long-term endeavour toward housing solutions

To achieve lasting solutions, continuous monitoring of the housing market, policy adjustments and collaboration among government, developers, community organizations, and residents will be necessary. This collective effort would ensure that the housing crisis is effectively managed. 

While four years can lay a foundation for change, it is crucial to manage expectations and foster a collective understanding that sustained efforts beyond the scope of a single platform, more so, a single mayoral term, will be required.