During his two terms as mayor, John Tory has endured a dramatic housing market characterized by unattainable rents, record-breaking home prices, a relentless lack of supply, and sky-high interest rates. And it’s tough to argue that Mayor Tory hasn’t made major moves on the housing front -- he has. In an exclusive interview with STOREYS this past spring, Tory highlighted some of the housing achievements he was most proud of, ranging from the introduction of the HousingTO 2020 -2030 Action Plan, to legalizing laneway homes and garden suites
So, what are his plans now, should the current mayor be elected for a third term come Monday (and we have a sneaking suspicion he will be)?
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In case you missed it, Tory rolled out his five-point plan for housing in August to tackle housing affordability and build homes faster.
“We’ve made string progress over the past eight years to get housing built in Toronto, but to tackle increased affordability challenges brought on by a national housing shortage we need to build more homes, faster,” said Mayor Tory in a press release at the time. “I’m proud to announce a five-point plan that builds on this progress by looking critically at where we can streamline and modernize processes at City Hall, and how we incentivize our homebuilding partners to increase our housing supply and drive affordability.”
On his campaign website, Tory describes the multi-faceted plan as one that will increase the attainability of adequate housing. “I want to ensure that we have a city where young people can afford to live in the neighbourhoods that they grew up in, seniors can afford to stay in if they choose to downsize, and newcomers can afford to come,” he says. While this sounds far-fetched in our current climate, it also sounds really nice in theory. So, how do we achieve this?
Tory's plan for housing attainability includes five pillars:
Receiving authority from the province to put a “use it or lose it” policy into place for developers.
Though some developers aren’t fans -- citing what they call valid reasons for certain delays -- this policy would see the City request that the Province work with us to allow for a “use it or lose it” policy that mandates developers start building on unused land within a certain timeframe or pay higher taxes and have zoning approvals expire. The goal, of course, is to bring more homes to market quicker.
Expanding housing options by permitting more “Missing Middle” housing in neighbourhoods.
In an attempt to increase density and open up more housing options, Tory is promising to allow more missing middle housing -- including the newly legalized garden suites as well as laneway housing, and exempting new developments with four units or less from development charges. “This builds on measures I’ve taken to increase gentle density across the city by legalizing laneway and garden suites and exempting developments of four units or less from development charges, and allow for even greater density on major roads, especially those well-served by transit,” says Tory on his campaign website.
The creation of a city Development and Growth Division (DGD).
In attempt to cut red tape and get homes built quicker, Tory says this policy would see the creation of the DGD at City Hall to act as a “one-stop shop” for handling all aspects of development review, streamline the approval process, speed up and reduce approval times, and better manage urban growth.
Improved incentives for the creation of purpose-built rental housing, such as lowering fees and development charges.
We need more purpose-built rentals -- and quickly, says Tory. So, he wants to introduce lower fees and development charges to help this cause. "And I want to have the DGD prioritize and fast-track the approval of purpose-built rentals," says Tory.
Enabling more co-op, supportive and affordable housing.
In order to enable more co-op, supportive, and affordable housing, Tory wants to allocate a portion of City-owned lands to be developed by non-profits. "Additionally, I want to continue to ensure that affordable and supportive housing units are exempt from development charges," he says.
Read more about Tory's housing plan here.
The Municipal Election is Monday, October 24. Find your polling station here.