Finding an affordable condo unit in Toronto is a rarity, but that could change in the near future.
The city is considering implementing a new policy called inclusionary zoning, which would require all developers to include a set number of affordable units in their projects. The goal, of course, is to make rentals and homeownership more affordable and achievable.
“Inclusionary zoning is a critical piece for addressing housing affordability in this city, not just today but decades ahead,” Councillor Brad Bradford said on Tuesday at a housing committee meeting.
Stats compiled by the City of Toronto confirm just how necessary this new policy is when it comes to affordability. Nearly half of all households in the city are renters, and 23 per cent of them are spending more than half their income on rent. Additionally, in the last five years, only two per cent of housing built has been affordable.
The policy might be a new idea for Toronto, but the concept is not unheard of. Inclusionary zoning is already used in roughly 800 cities across North America, including Vancouver, New York City, and Los Angeles.
At Toronto’s housing committee meeting this week, it was proposed that inclusionary zoning should be applied to downtown-area developments with more than 100 units. Between 10 and 20 per cent of condo units and between 2.5 and five per cent of units in purpose-built rental projects should be made affordable, according to the proposal. These units must be affordable for 25 years, HuffPost Canada reports.
The motion was accepted with amendments on Tuesday. City planning staff are now expected to have consultations with key stakeholders before reporting back with their comments and feedback. City Council must approve the assessment process on June 18 before Toronto can go ahead with creating its own inclusionary zoning policies.
Inclusionary zoning isn’t the only proposed solution for affordable housing in Toronto. New research published by Ryerson University last month suggested that transforming government-owned properties into residential developments could be beneficial. This is because nearly 6,000 of these public lands are underutilized and are costing the government millions of tax dollars to maintain. Thus, it would be a win-win to sell these properties for affordable housing units instead.
Rent in Toronto just keeps on climbing. In May, it topped Rentals.ca’s National Rent Report for the fifth month in a row. A one-bedroom unit currently costs $2,242, while a two-bedroom goes for $2,731.
The city does have initiatives in place to help residents deal with high rent prices. Mayor John Tory’s Housing Now Initiative aims to have 40,000 new affordable rental homes by 2030, and the federal government’s 10-year National Housing Strategy has already invested $89 million on affordable units in Etobicoke.
However, only time will tell whether or not these initiatives are enough to tackle Toronto's affordability crisis.