An assortment of heavy hitters assembled for the Housing Summit at the Toronto Region Board of Trade yesterday to remind Premier Doug Ford about how to fix the region’s housing supply issues.
The Ontario Real Estate Association, in partnership with the Ontario Home Builders’ Association and the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario, called on Ford to make homeownership more attainable for millennials.
Former Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leader and current OREA CEO Tim Hudak was front and centre in laying out a plan to fix everything from the supply chain issues to a reversing the prohibitive cost of housing for first-time buyers.
“You have to speed up the approvals process,” Hudak told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “It takes up to 10 years to get a new development done and every month of delay means increased costs to the consumer at the end of the day. We’ve also suggested that the provincial government make more investment in rail—more subways, more GOs, more LRTs.”
The Places to Grow Act of 2005 mandates intensification, and much of it is occurring with new buildings sprouting all over Toronto, but transit has not kept apace. A solution could be building residential high-rise towers above subway stations, says Hudak, and there would be no shortage of developers bidding on those projects.
“What’s not smart is allowing [transit infrastructure development] to go through areas that have one level or two levels of housing,” he said. “That means building more homes and building higher on top of subways and GO Stations. That will make a huge difference because millennials are interested in that kind of housing as well. We also believe you can lower the tax burden in Toronto, particularly when all you want is to get the keys to the house.
“There are tremendous public-private partnerships. Developers would have a bidding war if a new subway station was close to their properties, so why not use some of that money to expand our transit lines?”
Tax relief for first-time buyers is also paramount to helping them become homeowners. Hudak credits the Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne for giving first-time buyers some relief on the double land transfer tax, and for committing to a more rapid approvals process, but notes there is so much more to be done.
“What’s mindboggling is at a time when we’ve had economic expansion, a time when we’ve had low and long mortgage rates, homeownership has actually gone down in Ontario,” he said. “It’s never happened before since John A. MacDonald was our first Prime Minster that homeownership has gone down. Each generation has had a better shot than the previous. We need to get the pendulum back in balance.”