Toronto announces housing plan to hit target of 285,000 new homes by 2031

By Mark McAllister and Meredith Bond

The City of Toronto has officially released its plan to build 285,000 new homes by 2031, the provincial housing target for the city.

The city’s housing plan is a multi-pronged approach that is expected to get underway later this year with a wide range of actions. These include removing zoning barriers to build housing, leveraging public and to increase housing supply and preserving existing rental homes.

As soon as April, a number of initiatives will be brought forward from this report.

A recommendation to enable zoning for multiplexes in all neighbourhoods and a framework to support the growth of community housing is among them. A new dashboard will also be available on the city’s website soon that allows residents to track affordable rental homes, approved, under construction and built homes, and homes that have been demolished and replaced through rental replacement policies.

“This is an incredible opportunity during this council term to update and modernize housing policies here in Toronto in a way that facilitates of more housing supply, choice, and affordability for everyone,” said Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie.

She added that while these actions will happen over the next three years, most will happen this year and in 2024.

“We know that the time is now to take big strides towards activating all orders of government as well as developers, landowners, and housing providers, and we need to build homes now.”

The report is expected to go before the Executive Committee before review next week, on March 21.

“This is very much the framework, the umbrella of where we need to go, and we’re going to have many more reports next month and April are planning and housing but also in the months to follow after that as well,” McKelvie said.

When asked whether discussing this plan should be delayed until the new mayor is in place, McKelvie said she has faith the 25 councillors who have been elected to serve their communities will be able to make good decisions for the city.

“There has been extensive public consultation around many of these, and consultation continues. We are listening to the people of Toronto, and it’s important that we listen to the reviews on this issue.”

Matti Siemiatycki, University of Toronto professor of Geography and Planning, said the city will need lots of help in order to achieve the ambitious target in place.

“We need intentional action. We need all hands on deck and collaboration between the different stakeholders and the incentives, a line and that means permits being streamlined and planning being streamlined so that projects can move forward quicker,” he said.

“It means companies and not-for-profits are able to arrange their financing. It is the provincial government coming to the table with resources for capacity support. All orders of government plus the private sector and not-for-profits [are needed] to really make a dent in this housing crisis.”

Gregg Lintern with the City Planning Decision said the housing plan should also them to achieve their target.

“A lot of the work that we are doing through the housing action plan enables this. Some of it is directly through housing now program modular housing [and] some of the other initiatives that the city takes.”

He agreed that all must be involved to meet this mark.

“We approve a lot of housing here at City Hall. The two-to-one ratio on approvals versus completions. We need to complete them. We need to continue that piece to position the market to be able to achieve the target.”

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