Improving timelines, zoning rules will help with housing affordability – OREA

Ensuring a strong influx of new supply will provide Ontarians with much-needed options for lower-cost housing

Improving timelines, zoning rules will help with housing affordability – OREA

Ending onerous red tape and exclusionary single-family zoning rules in high-demand areas would be one of the most impactful avenues of addressing the long-running affordability crisis, according to the Ontario Real Estate Association.

“The government of Ontario needs to fix outdated zoning laws to allow conversion of detached properties into much-needed ‘missing middle’ townhomes,” the OREA said. “Currently, it is illegal in Toronto neighbourhoods to convert a single-family home into a townhome, duplex, triplex or fourplex without a zoning by-law change, which delays projects, costs additional money, and leaves people stranded without an affordable home.”

The OREA deemed these zoning laws “sorely outdated,” and said they only served as incentives for “not-in-my-backyard forces to drive up costs of homes or drive away affordable homes in a neighbourhood entirely.”

Read more: Report calls on Ontario government to update zoning bylaws

“In too many Ontario cities, it defies common sense that you can take a bungalow and turn it into a monster four-storey home for one wealthy family, but you cannot build affordable townhomes for multiple families without red tape, runaround, and exorbitant costs,” said Tim Hudak, CEO of OREA.

OREA urged provincial officials to build on the More Homes, More Choice Act of 2019 to implement “as-of-right” zoning in the region’s urban neighbourhoods that are seeing the strongest demand. The group said that this specific measure would pave the way for seamless development of “gentle density” situated close to existing density and transit hubs.

“You cannot grow south into Lake Ontario or north into the Greenbelt, so we need to use the space in between to create more homes and give more choice to Ontarians,” Hudak said. “On the heels of a federal election focused on housing affordability, this issue remains top of mind for many who badly want all levels of government to help bring affordability home – and that starts with increasing and improving housing supply.”