With just over a week to go until the provincial election on June 2, the Ontario Liberals are unveiling a new promise to tax landowners who allow their properties to sit unused, with a “use it or lose it” levy. The idea behind the additional taxation is that real estate “speculators” -- those sitting on land and watching its value rise -- will be prompted to either add housing to their lots, or sell to someone who will.

The Liberals’ plan will also apply to underused government properties, earmarking them for the development of new, affordable housing via a new Ontario Home Building Corporation, to be sold only to first-time homebuyers.

READ: We’ve Got a Lot of Work Ahead of Us: Housing Minister Steve Clark on Ontario’s Supply Challenges

It’s part of the party’s commitment to build 1.5M homes over the next decade -- a pledge now echoed by each major provincial party -- by doubling the pace of construction.

According to the Liberals, such land speculators are currently sitting on approvals for over 250,000 new homes, but have yet to break ground to bring them to fruition.

The plan would also introduce a new 2% tax on vacant urban homes, as well as increase that tax on homes owned by non-Canadians. 

In a release, Liberal leadership and Vaughan MP candidate  Steven Del Duca took aim specifically at the incumbent PC government, pointing to the rampant price appreciation experienced by the market since they were elected in 2018.

“Doug Ford promised to lower housing costs in the last campaign. Housing prices have increased by almost $500,000 with the average housing cost rising to over $1M for the first time under his watch,” he stated. “Our Liberal plan will make life more affordable from day one. We will build 1.5M new homes, and we will tax speculators and we motivate those who have the land to get building -- because that is what Ontario families expect and deserve.”

According to the Toronto Star’sThe Signal provincial election forecast, the PC Party currently leads in polling with 34.4% of the vote, followed by the Liberals at 25.4%, and the NDP at 23.2%.

READ: Ontario Housing Experts Debate Top Challenges Facing Supply Creation

The Ontario Green Party also released a fresh housing promise today; dubbed the YIMBY Housing Strategy, it would double down on creating gentle and infield density by expanding as-of-right zoning to allow fourplexes, triplexes, and duplexes in all neighbourhoods, as well as the fast tracking of secondary suite development applications.

Currently, the Greens are trailing fourth, with 8.8% of the vote.

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