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Fall’s municipal elections are an opportunity to champion bold ideas on housing


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Voters across the GTA will be heading to the polls again in October to elect mayors and councillors for the region’s municipalities. As this is the level of government with the most direct impact on housing supply, location and choice, the decisions voters make on Oct. 24 will significantly affect future housing availability and affordability in the GTA. In a region with a generational housing crisis, candidates for office must not be distracted by short-term economic conditions and must champion bold, clear ideas on how to address the housing challenge.

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Headlines inform us that demand for housing is cooling in the GTA in the midst of economic uncertainty. The fact is, the region’s fundamental challenges around housing supply remain unresolved and are even exacerbated as short-term economic conditions and inflationary pressures cool demand but at the same time increase the costs of building new housing.

With population continuing to grow across the region and demand only temporarily held back, the pause in the housing market will eventually reset as the market adjusts to higher interest rates or as rates stabilize. Similar to the 2017 market slowdown following the introduction of the mortgage stress test, as demand returns, the lack of housing supply will re-assert itself, new supply will be more costly due to the inflationary pressures of the last year and a half, and affordability challenges will continue.

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In June, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation indicated that 1.85 million additional homes would be required in Ontario by 2030 to restore a target affordability rate of 37 per cent of average income. That’s approximately a 150 per cent increase to 2021 Ontario housing starts, every year for eight years.

Our challenge is clear: we must find ways to build much more housing, more quickly and more efficiently than we do now. Candidates for municipal office must take up this challenge and engage the electorate in a conversation on how we can collectively meet it. They also need to support ambitious ideas for getting more housing built, such as the 55 recommendations in the report of Ontario’s Housing Affordability Task Force.

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Leading up to the municipal election, BILD will be profiling ideas for addressing the ongoing housing supply and affordability crisis across the GTA. We hope that both candidates and voters recognize they have an opportunity to make a potentially historic impact on the housing supply and affordability—and ultimately the competitiveness and livability—of our region.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA. For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, @bildgta, or visit www.bildgta.ca.

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