With Toronto’s mayoral by-election less than two weeks away, candidate Josh Matlow is still hot on the campaign trail, announcing on Tuesday his plan to cut property taxes in half for new purpose-built rental apartments. Qualifying buildings must include no less than 5% of units offered at a below-market rate.

This latest announcement -- which is part of the current city councillor’s Comprehensive Housing Plan -- is meant to incentivize developers to invest in the purpose-built rental segment, which is chronically underserved.

For some context, apartment buildings and condos are currently taxed at the same rate in Toronto, which doesn’t do much to nudge developers toward the purpose-built segment.

READ: Matlow Proposes 9-Storeys As-of-Right on Designated Avenues

“Toronto requires a sustainable supply of below-market attainable housing, as well as new supply for both renters and home buyers,” said Matlow in a press release issued today. “By cutting taxes in half for new apartments, we can shift the supply of housing from investment-driven condos to purpose-built rentals."

Matlow has not shied away from proposing divisive, housing-related policy changes since launching his campaign in March

Right off the bat, he unveiled a plan to raise property taxes by 2% to fund several improvements across the city. Following that, Matlow proposed the creation of Public Build Toronto with the hopes of generating 8,250 rent-controlled market apartments and 6,750 affordable apartments, including 750 deeply affordable units for Torontonians on very low or fixed incomes. He has also proposed allowances for up to three rental units to be added to existing homes.

More recently, in proposing the approval of nine-storey buildings as-of-right on designated avenues around the city, Matlow has also stated that he will establish a dedicated team of City lawyers, architects, and planners to speed up applications related to the addition of rental units to existing homes. He also plans to fast-track development applications that “provide meaningful community benefits, such as affordable housing.”

As well, to improve apartment affordability, Matlow has spoken of putting $50M towards the purchase of affordable apartment buildings that are “under threat” with the end goal of handing off those buildings to non-profit operators.

Toronto