John Tory announces 5-point plan to build homes faster in Toronto

housing construction stock photo

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory has released a five-point plan that he says will build housing more quickly and address affordability challenges.

Tory, who is seeking a third term, announced his first campaign policy about housing Tuesday morning, ahead of the municipal election on Oct. 24.

“I believe we need to get more housing built, we need to get more affordable and supportive housing built and we need to have housing that is obtainable for middle class Torontonians,” Tory said at a news conference a housing construction site in Toronto’s Distillery District.

RESCON supports Tory’s plan to speed up residential construction in Toronto

The first pillar of his plan is a commitment to eliminate and reform outdated planning rules that have prevented more “missing middle” housing types from being built in the city, particularly on major roads served by the TTC. These include duplexes and triplexes and the kinds of mid-rise, walk-up apartment buildings seen in some Toronto neighbourhoods that were largely developed before the Second World War.

“We simply cannot afford, as a city, to stand in the way of these housing options,” Tory said. “We can’t anymore only have the option between two-storey housing and 60-storey towers. There are many more options in between that and we need to take advantage of those options.”

tory housing planReforms would allow for missing middle developments to be built as of right, meaning the projects would largely avoid the “lengthy and costly approval process” for re-zoning.

Tory wants to legalize laneway suites and garden suites, and exempt developments of four units or less from development charges.

“We also need to include the option to create duplexes, triplexes, as well as the kind of walk-up apartment buildings found in many pre-war neighbourhoods,” Tory said.

To speed up building approval times, Tory’s proposed Development and Growth Division would act as a “one-stop shop” to handle all aspects of development review and streamline the approval process.

Staff would prioritize and fast-track the approval of purpose-built rentals.

“This will be a reorganization of existing staff in the spin cycle of housing applications, and thus bouncing back and forth between different divisions of the city government,” Tory said.

To avoid developers from sitting on approved land, Tory said he wants to enact a “use it or lose it” policy that mandates developers to start building on unused land within a certain timeframe or face the consequences of higher taxes and expired zoning approvals.

To create more co-op, supportive and affordable housing, Tory said he wants to allocate a portion of city-owned land to be developed by non-profit organizations.

“Cooperative housing works and for some reason we back away. We, meaning all of the governments, back away from the use of it in previous years,” Tory said.

“If we can allocate the vacant land that we own as a city and encourage the other governments to do the same together with some of the other incentives we’ve been offering through programs like Open Doors and Housing Now…then I believe we will be able to build more supportive and affordable housing,” he added.

There are 31 candidates in Toronto’s mayoral race.


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