Over the next decade, Ontario is positioned to face a shortage of 200,000 rental units, further adding to the province's already deepening rental crisis.

On Wednesday, the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) released a rental market report which the company's president and CEO Tony Irwin says should serve as a "wake-up call" to those who influence the development approvals process.

The report, which was prepared with the help of rental market analytics firm, Urbanation, says strong demand factors of (pre-pandemic) job growth, immigration, and high homeownership prices combined with lagging rental construction activity will create a shortage of 200,000 units in Ontario’s rental market over the next ten years.

Not only is this number a cause for concern, but it's also twice as high as what FRPO originally projected in 2017, due to record population inflows to the province, strong job creation, and further reductions in homeownership affordability

What's more, while COVID-19 has undoubtedly taken a toll on the economy, FRPO says pre-pandemic demand pressure will return once the economy rebounds and borders re-open, making this supply gap "unavoidable."

Irwin says the province now needs to do everything it can to close the supply gap and give Ontarians more homes and more choice in rental housing.”

One solution FRPO proposes to the Ford government and municipalities across the province is to explore more infill development opportunities, which is the process of completing the construction of rental buildings on available land where these structures already exist. These projects are the most viable in that they can be built without purchasing land, one of the largest costs in rental construction, and can also be accommodated in more affordable market areas, a key issue in addressing new housing supply.

READ: Ontario to Introduce Legislation for Province-Wide Rent Freeze This Fall

The report also outlines the results of an exercise undertaken by Urbanation, where approximately 950 rental sites in the GTHA were identified as opportunities for infill development to double and in some cases triple the number of rental units on a site.

The report says the Urbanatioin data estimates that just over 176,000 units could be built on an existing rental-zoned property -- a significant step toward fulfilling the rental unit demand.

What's more, FRPO says 35% of these sites are within 800 metres of a current or future rapid transit station, which is consistent with the Ford government’s push to establish major transit station areas and create more transit-oriented communities throughout the province.

You can read the full report here.