The housing builders association (BILD) regularly lobbies for easier access to more land for more single-family housing in the GTA. They expect an average of 115,000 new residents per year over the next 20 years – a total of 2.5 million more residents in the region.
That will require 55,000 new homes every year according to BILD. They have put forward a four-point plan that includes:
“Fair & equitable fees, taxes and charges”
BILD says these make up 25% of the cost of an average new home. These types of development charges are applied by municipalities to recover the cost of installing basic infrastructure – i.e. water pipes and sewers. Development charges can also be levied by school boards and the county.
“The revenue pays for increased capital costs related to hard and soft services that come as a result of more people and businesses moving into the municipality. For example, the revenue could go toward the construction of new sewer and road systems that might not have been required before. The revenue could also be put toward soft services like new municipal recreation centres and libraries.” (A brief explanation of development charges, Toronto Star, March 2013)
These development charges can vary substantially by municipality. Each municipality decides what’s right for them. I don’t think ‘one size fits all’ is a workable approach. The development charges are collected as housing is built. Municipalities foot the initial infrastructure cost. Historically though, municipalities never catch up with cost recovery.
“Fund & build critical infrastructure”
By that they mean municipalities (i.e. – you) should foot the bill to add new infrastructure over greenfields now without the limitation of sprawl-limiting intensification regulations. Doug Ford’s accidental admission that he was thinking of opening up the Greenbelt to development is an example.
“Cut bureaucratic red tape”
BILD wants a uniform “service standard” to speed up permits and inspections for “building and renovations”.
Adopt new housing solutions
Specifically, BILD refers to laneway housing and secondary suites as ways to “unlock the potential of current neighbourhoods”.
Is that it? I have to wonder if there aren’t more ways to provide more affordable housing? For instance, I have walked through a few local model homes and felt they were really inappropriate to the market. Like the oversized homes, for instance, with “luxury” features, and wasted unusable spaces that were priced around the million dollar mark. Are builders really building for the market? Or building to maximize profit?
Maybe we should (in no particular order):
- Encourage more relocation to smaller communities
- Require a better mix of smaller housing
- Require a better mix of low-rise housing options (I still fondly remember my old walk-up apartment)
- Research more live/work design possibilities (like the huge residence that was built over a small factory in Toronto)
- Ban the demolition of existing usable (livable/convertible) buildings
- Prevent housing speculation through new sales conditions
- Examine new technologies for basic (water/sewer) infrastructure
- Examine new technologies to lower construction costs
- Remove the cost of land from housing developments (I know, think about it)
- Just wait for us of the ‘boomer’ generation to exit stage left?
Feel free to share your ideas too.