Toronto mayor-elect Olivia Chow pledges focus on housing

Chow promises that affordable housing will be her administration's first priority

Toronto mayor-elect Olivia Chow pledges focus on housing

Amid steadily growing costs of living, Toronto mayor-elect Olivia Chow said that her priority will be streamlining the processes and regulations governing affordable housing.

Chow, who will be taking office on July 12 per the city clerk, said that the first item on her administration’s agenda will be evaluating and approving proposed affordable housing plans.

“My first priority is to look at all the affordable housing and other housing that is ready to go,” Chow said in an interview with CBC News. “They are ready in terms of [having the land]; they have the building, they have the plans, [and] the building permit just needs to be approved.”

“They’re stuck at City Hall for the last two years, so my first priority is to break that apart and say, ‘Come on, let’s cut some red tape and get it going.’”

She also expressed hope in working with deputy mayor Jennifer McKelvie and other Toronto councillors to expedite the development of effective solutions to the region’s perennial housing supply issues.

Chow’s campaign under the New Democratic Party’s auspices promised a hike on the land transfer tax on homes with sales values of $3 million and higher. She also vowed to raise Toronto’s existing vacant homes tax by three-fold, up to 3%.

The newly minted mayor assured that any potential tax increases, which have been floated as a solution to Toronto’s massive $1.5-billion deficit, will be nowhere near as large as the 20% to 40% hikes that her detractors have claimed.

“It’s campaign talk. They’re wrong. I’ve said it’s a modest tax increase, [although] I can’t give a number because we don’t know what is the interest rate” by the time the next budget is slated to be announced on March 2024, Chow said.

 “I can’t give a number,” Chow told CBC News. “Unfortunately, there’s a big budget deficit and my priority is to look at all affordable housing plans that are ready to go.”