Virtually everyone in the GTA is aware the region has a housing supply and affordability challenge. Not a day goes by that there isn’t some form of news covering one angle of the topic or another. Issues include housing availability, increasing rents, the costs associated with construction and increased density as the building industry works to meet demand.
Housing supply and affordability are complex issues. Many factors have influenced and contributed to the current status quo in the region and all deserve to be examined carefully and accounted for. The building and land development industry is highly regulated in Ontario.
It is arguably the most regulated housing industry in North America and this leads to one unavoidable fact. While homes are sold or rented (with some exceptions, such as social housing) based on free-market demand, the supply of new homes is heavily influenced by the regulatory environment of the province and municipalities. This nonmarket influence is a key reason why the number of housing units built in the region since 2006 has fallen short of projected demand by almost 100,000 units.
Elephant number 1 — The layers of bureaucracy and red tape the building industry must comply with prior to the building has significantly lengthened the time it takes to build new homes and communities. On average, across the GTA, it takes 10 years to complete a typical highrise project and 11 years to complete a typical low-rise project. This delays new product coming to market, exacerbating the supply/demand imbalance, and maintains inflationary pressure on the cost of new homes.
Elephant number 2 — There are over 100,000 new housing units that developers would like to build that would significantly help with the supply/demand imbalance; however, they are currently stuck in a bureaucratic logjam at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). If those projects are approved, it would significantly help with housing supply and consequently affordability.
Elephant number 3 — The inability to meet housing demand has led to lost jobs and tax revenue shortfalls that could have benefited the Canadian economy. Altus Group modelling on the economic impact of unmet housing supply from 2006-2018, shows 231,000 lost person-years in employment, $26 billion in lost GDP and almost $10 billion in lost revenue for all levels of government (HST, property tax and development charges).
Elephant number 4 — Aside from the supply/demand imbalance inflating the price of homes, the taxation of homes at all stages of construction exacerbates affordability. Land transfer taxes, HST, parkland fees and development charges collectively add 24% to the cost of an average new condo in the GTA and 22% to the cost of an average new single-family home.
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