Oct 27, 2004 - Public wants choice in housing, poll shows

January 18, 2005

October 27, 2004

Public wants choice in housing, poll shows
Poll highlights attached: "Public attitudes towards urban intensification in the GTA"

GTHBA/Navigator Poll Highlights:
  • 2/3 (65%) prefer detached homes in the suburbs.
  • 80 per cent believe the GTA is already too crowded.
  • 55 per cent agree that high density, high-rise development is appropriate for downtown Toronto but not the suburbs.
  • Regardless of where they live 61 per cent believe that high density housing is not appropriate for their community.
  • 81 per cent believe that if the province restricts traditional suburban development, housing prices will rise.
  • If prices rise substantially, 79 per cent will either stay put or move further out within or beyond the GTA.
  • 74 per cent want expanded public transit, road and highways.

Toronto – A survey of Toronto and suburban GTA residents reveals that the public does not want to live in the kind of housing or locations that the provincial government is proposing in its growth management plan.

The Liberal government is calling for intensification throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe – higher density housing in compact neighbourhoods in already developed areas.

But that runs directly opposite to what people prefer – a single-family home in the suburbs.

Sixty-five per cent of Toronto and suburban GTA residents polled in September said they would “definitely” or “very likely” move into a single-family home.

“What is really striking,” notes Mark Parsons, president of the Greater Toronto Home Builders’ Association, “is how strongly people feel about the type of housing they prefer and how opposed they are to having their choice limited by government.”

According to Parsons, the poll, conducted for the GTHBA by Navigator Limited, also revealed that the top growth-related concern on the minds of the public is transportation gridlock. Seventy-four per cent of respondents said that expanding public transit and roads and highways were the best solutions to the gridlock challenge, while just 22 per cent said that limiting urban sprawl or encouraging more people to live in the city were the best solutions.

Not in my backyard

While 55 per cent said most new high-density, high-rise buildings should be located in downtown Toronto and not in the suburbs, 61 per cent said that higher-density housing is not appropriate for their neighbourhood or community. “Builders are all too familiar with this ‘not in my backyard syndrome’ which looms as a huge obstacle to the province’s goals,” Parsons said.

House prices will rise

The overwhelming majority of respondents (81 per cent) believe that if the province restricts traditional suburban development, housing prices will rise. If that occurs, half of respondents said they would just stay put and not buy the kind of home the government prefers. More than one-quarter said they would move out of the GTA to get what they want.

Lost jobs, leapfrog development

“That means that new home sales would falter, growth would not be accommodated, and we’d see leapfrog development that would actually lead to more commuting and more traffic congestion,” Parsons said. “Denying consumer choice has serious ramifications for everybody.”

“The GTA home building industry is about to record its seventh year of record or near-record sales,” Parsons said. “We’ve been very successful because we give buyers what they want. It’s hard to see how we can maintain our success if we have to build what the government wants, especially when it’s quite obvious that consumers aren’t going to accept that kind of housing.”

Parsons added that home builders understand and appreciate the provincial desire to curb urban sprawl, protect environmental and agricultural lands and maximize existing investment in infrastructure. “The home building industry shares the same concerns, but we are equally concerned with housing affordability and choice as well as continued economic growth and prosperity, and we’re looking for the Province to strike that very careful balance,” Parsons concluded.

Note to editors:
To view further Navigator Poll highlights from "Public attitudes towards urban intensification in the GTA," please CLICK HERE

For more information, contact:
Suzanna Cohen
, Director of Communications 416-391-3450
Stephen Dupuis, Executive Vice President 416-391-3453