March 30, 2021
TORONTO - Today, Ontario’s Minister of Housing, Steve Clark, tabled Bill 109 - The “More Homes for Everyone Act”. This eagerly awaited legislation follows the Housing Affordability Task Force (“HATF”) Report released in early February. The report called for the construction of 1.5M new homes over the next 10 years, an ambitious target to end the housing crisis while creating a huge opportunity for Ontario’s businesses and workers as they mobilise to double the rate of homebuilding in the province. Today, Ontario’s Provincial Government threw the HATF Report into the garbage.
“Everyone left out of Ontario’s housing boom, especially young Ontarians, just watched provincial leaders give up on a fair housing future for our generation. By continuing to punt on urgently needed reforms, our leaders are endorsing the housing crisis instead of a better quality of life for all Ontarians.”, said Alena Parkinson, a More Neighbours Toronto advocate.
The HATF Report’s provincially-appointed authors articulated a clear pathway to stabilising runaway housing costs, by recommending that Ontario finally end exclusionary zoning practices through legalising multi-tenant housing and multiplexes on every residential property. It also suggested municipalities make better use of existing transit infrastructure by allowing mid-rise growth along bus and street-car routes while transforming underutilised commercial retail space to become mixed with residential development.
“The task force recommendations had the potential to take the market down to earth, bring back main street culture, enable ageing residents to downsize in place, and create sustainable complete communities.”, said Ramsey Kilani, a volunteer with More Neighbours Toronto.
With critically needed actions left out of Bill 109, the anti-housing agenda scored a victory. Systemic reforms took a back seat to “cutting red tape” in the housing approvals process. The time between a housing application being filed and shovels being dug into the ground may be shortened but this alone will have a negligible impact on affordability. In the majority of our cities, 70% or more of all residential land is locked away in zoning that only permits single-family homes. Nothing in Bill 109 comes close to changing this unfair reality.
“This legislation may make it faster to build homes but does little to make it possible to actually build enough homes where housing is most needed, in existing communities.”, explained volunteer Rocky Petkov, “We’re building a fast lane straight into a brick wall”.
Ontario’s housing crisis has reached a breaking point. In just 10 years, home prices have risen over 200% while incomes increased by just 38%. To make matters worse, these rapidly increasing prices for ownership are contributing to rapidly increasing rent. This is trapping many renters in unsuitable housing and stealing prosperity from everyone left behind through lower disposable incomes. The cost of housing has become a major barrier for new Ontarians, young people, racial and other minorities, and the economically mobile in establishing their lives in our province.
“Ontario has barely begun to feel the consequences of bifurcating our society into wealthy property-inheriting classes with political influence and a renter class for whom ownership and participation become increasingly impossible.”, remarked Eric Lombardi, an advocate with More Neighbours Toronto, “We must urgently avert this neo-feudal future from wreaking havoc on our generational social contract, our economy, our environment, and our democracy.”
The province had a chance to act where municipalities have demonstrated repeated failures. We at More Neighbours Toronto hoped for much better, and expected more action. When Will Ontario’s Leaders Finally Start To Take The Housing Crisis Seriously?
- The Advocates Of More Neighbours Toronto
Media contact: Eric Lombardi, firstname.lastname@example.org
More Neighbours Toronto is a volunteer-only organisation of housing advocates that believe in building more multi-family homes of all kinds for those who dream of building their lives in Toronto. We advocate for reforms to increase our city’s ability to build more homes in every neighbourhood. We are a big-tent organisation with members across the political spectrum who are nevertheless committed to counterbalancing the anti-housing agenda that dominates Toronto's politics, created an affordability crisis, and has cost burdened a new generation of aspiring residents. We are firmly committed to the principle that housing is a human right and believe Toronto should be inclusive and welcoming to all.