Toronto Unveils Ambitious $36 Billion Plan for 65,000 Rental Homes

As being a landlord continues to be in vogue among Canadian officials, Toronto kicks it up a notch by unveiling an ambitious $36 billion plan to construct 65,000 rental homes over the next seven years, in response to a request from Mayor Olivia Chow and the city council. 

The proposal, which aims to tackle the housing crisis in the city, will be discussed at an upcoming executive committee meeting. This massive housing initiative marks a departure from the belief that only the private sector can address housing shortages. 

“We are reversing the destructive thinking over the past two decades … that only the private sector can build housing,” the Toronto mayor said. “The path in front of us is ambitious. It is urgently needed.”

But the success of the plan relies heavily on substantial financial contributions from the provincial and federal governments. The city is requesting annual grants of $500 million to $800 million from each government over seven years, as well as billions in low-cost loans to facilitate the construction of 17,000 to 18,000 homes within three to four years.

Chow is optimistic that the provincial and federal governments will respond positively to the plea, as housing has been a prominent topic for discussion at these levels. The city’s vision for the project includes the construction of co-operatives and land trust acquisitions, with the goal of completing 21,000 homes within three years.

The plan involves five sites where the city will take on the role of a public builder, including Housing Now locations at 405 Sherbourne St. and 150 Queens Wharf Rd., as well as 1113-1117 Dundas St. W., 11 Brock Ave., and 25 Bellevue Ave. The city intends to seek non-profit and co-operative partners for these sites to expedite project completion.

The plan aims to create 65,000 rent-controlled homes by 2030, comprising 6,500 rent-geared-to-income units, 41,000 affordable rental units, and 17,500 rent-controlled market units. Funding has already been secured for 4,455 homes, according to the city.

Jag Sharma, the deputy city manager for development and growth services, highlighted internal changes made to streamline development approvals. The city is also proposing modifications to the appeals process to expedite construction. Additionally, they are exploring the creation of a Toronto Housing Affordability Fund for non-profit and public-led developments.

Related: Trudeau Reveals Housing Deal In Vaughan For Over 1,700 New Units

Coun. Gord Perks, the city’s housing chair, expressed confidence that the plan will receive support from the provincial and federal governments. He stressed the importance of addressing the housing crisis collectively and moving away from land speculation.

The report also recommends requesting legislative changes from the federal and provincial governments to prevent house-flipping and renovictions, while encouraging private developers to include more affordable rental units. The city has also submitted an application for the federal Housing Accelerator Fund.

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