Feb 27, 2003 - Boundaries that restrict housing subdivisions could lead to higher prices or shortages

January 18, 2005

Feb 27, 2003 

Boundaries that restrict housing subdivisions could lead to higher prices or shortages

Toronto – New home builders in the Greater Toronto Area today warned members of the Central Ontario Smart Growth Panel to take care in limiting areas for development or they could create higher house prices or shortages in the supply of homes for the next generation.

According to Greater Toronto Home Builders’ Association president Joe Valela, the amount of undeveloped land designated for new housing in the GTA will meet the need for only about the next 15 years. Since it takes more than 10 years from initial identification of new land to the day a family moves in, there could be a crunch coming.

"In the next 30 years, more than a million new homes are required to meet the demands of present residents plus newcomers to the GTA," Valela warned. "Our studies show that about three-quarters of the buyers will be seeking ground-level single detached homes."

To meet the panel’s call for higher density, more compact development, Valela noted that while high-rise apartments on new land or on sites in built-up areas can accommodate an unlimited number of residents, that may not be what a large proportion of buyers want.

Significantly increasing density in existing neighbourhoods by building apartments and townhouses will create another problem, Valela advised the panel members. There is no room in such communities to significantly add to the parks and open spaces that the new residents require, reducing standards for everybody.

The smart growth panel is hearing public and stakeholder submissions before making final recommendations to the province on how to accommodate future growth in a sustainable manner.

Valela also told the panel that area developers have been planning and building at higher densities since the 1980s. The GTA is already one of the most urbanized regions in North America and has the greatest proportion of high-rise housing of any metropolitan area in Canada or the United States.

"It hasn’t been ‘business as usual’ around here for decades," he said. "We’ve long been building on smaller lots and making communities more compact to preserve land and protect the environment."

A study prepared for the GTHBA by Hemson Consulting Limited concluded that there is "very little opportunity" to build higher density homes in existing areas without sacrificing current standards for parks, schools, institutions or environmental protection."

To view the report, please click the immediate link:
GROWTH AND URBAN LAND NEED IN CENTRAL ONTARIO [PDF]
Submission to Central Ontario Smart Growth Strategy Sub-Panel
Prepared for the GTHBA by HEMSON CONSULTING LTD.

For further information:
Suzanna Cohen, Director of Communications at 416-391-3450
Stephen E. Dupuis, Executive Vice President 416-391-3453