Today's discussion:

Doug Ford is blowing it on housing

Ford can get back in the driver’s seat and be the man who fixed Ontario's (and to a large extent Canada's) housing crisis. Or he can be remembered as the last gasp of Toronto NIMBYism. Either way, his legacy as Ontario's premier is on the line.

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Yohanna Koncan

I don’t believe that student housing should be paid for by Canadian taxpayers. Our system is very different from the American system (where most students live in residence for their undergraduate degree). Most often Canadian students opt to attend University in their home town or in their home province, rather than somewhere else. If students from other countries choose to come here to study it is their responsibility to find and fund housing during that time. If housing is expensive they may need to factor in that cost when choosing where they wish to study. Realistically Canada may no longer be the best choice. Students from other countries are those who come from financially successful backgrounds and have the funds to study in a foreign country they or their parents are responsible for the costs. If I sent my child to France to study, I would not expect the French government to subsidize her education or housing. Since the French government is not willing or able to subsidize my child’s education and I cannot afford for her to study in France, while paying high housing costs, it does not make sense for me to send her there. Unfortunately Canadian universities have come to depend on tuition from international students. At the same time they have also lost sight of their mission of providing the best educational opportunities they can for Canadian students. We would be better off if we chose to fund universities directly for the benefit of Canadian students as we did in the past. Funding student housing is just another way of financially supporting the post secondary education of international students who are not and may never be Canadian. Any student housing funded by Canadian taxpayers should only benefit Canadian rural and/ or Indigenous students as Canada will benefit directly by the investing in the education of future professionals and leaders of our country.

14th November 2023 at 9:28 am
The Hub Staff

Thank you Rob and Yohanna for engaging with the article and participating in Hub Forum.

14th November 2023 at 2:45 pm
Rob Tyrrell

There is also the issue of “educational” businesses whose primary purpose seems to be to get as many foreign students into their seats as possible. There is insufficient regulatory constraint and certainly little consideration for society or the students themselves. That is, a market at work.

14th November 2023 at 10:38 am
Adrian van den Enden

This issue is not new. My father was a licensed electrician when we entered Canada as immigrants in 1953. He was denied the right to work at that trade. The union refused him entry and the Government insisted on him immediately enrolling in a school program to upgrade to Canadian standards. His four children and wife apparently were to live off the land while he was gone.
So he picked cucumbers, dug ditches, and did whatever was necessary to survive. He eventually became a plumber, after finding an employer who recognized talent.

14th November 2023 at 8:32 am

So long as population growth exceeds housing supply growth you’ll have upward pressure on housing prices. So long as population growth is ~1.1 million a year you’ll need over 350k units per year at our ~3 per unit average.

Nobody thinks we can get to 350k per year within a calendar year even if the next immigrants off the plane were Barcelona’s urban planners. So, we’ll see rents and new housing prices continue to increase.

Trudeau and Singh have no incentive to call an early election and by the time the election comes there will be two Canadas: the families who were on the equity ladder before the pandemic will be the new aristocracy and everyone else will have the living standards of China or Mexico. Rents will continue to jump 10% year-over-year until we can’t meet our immigration targets because the world realizes that your quality of life is higher for a newcomer to India than it is for a newcomer to Canada. That’s coming soon.

Even Conservatives seem to honestly believe that a 50yo migrant here illegally making $12/hour increases productivity and median family income while reducing pressure on the housing market. The laptop-class technocrats have fallen for their own propaganda, failing understand that “immigration grows the economy” applies to GDP, but not necessarily GDP per capita unless you’re careful.

I get the need for immigration, and, it’s a need for people who’s profession exceeds median family income or else it impoverishes the current population. For the love of God target less than 1% population growth so the poor can get some room to breathe and the housing industry can get some time to adjust and ramp up production. It’s too late now but maybe the next government will be amenable to having their head screwed on straight by the pushback. Nearly the highest pop growth rate in Canadian history became a sacred cow somehow.

14th November 2023 at 11:12 am
Richard Courtemanche

The amount of resources required to support uncontrolled overwhelming mass immigration is unsustainable.

14th November 2023 at 8:30 am
Rob Tyrrell

Well, that is stating the obvious. ‘Overwhelming’ by definition indicates that controls are not sufficient.

Baseline Assertion: We need immigration to maintain our economy.

The broad question is how much immigration is optimal and how can the infrastructure and society itself by prepared for the planned levels. Housing is a clear example of the supply not being aligned with the demand. Coordination of three levels of government that have distinct powers over different aspects of the many factors and short-term political incentives make this a very difficult problem to pin down, let alone solve.

Premier Ford seems to be the epitome of a short-term political reactionary. As a leader, doing the correct thing can be hard in the face of public, or lobbyist/friend, pressure, especially if the benefits are not felt/recognized until after the next election.

Housing is a prime example of government coordination failure. It could be the example, hopefully a shining one, of determined and effective government collaboration (even if only two of the three levels) in addressing a significant and acute problem despite the citizen NIMBYism.

14th November 2023 at 10:19 am
Rory McAlpine

Here in B.C. the prov govt has introduced legislation forcing municipalities to change zoning rules to make it easier to build town homes, multiplexes and laneway houses. The requirements will allow a minimum of one secondary suite or one laneway home in all single-family or duplex residential zones. Within municipalities of more than 5,000 people, zoning will allow for three to four units in select areas on single-family or duplex lots, depending on lot size. A minimum of six units will be allowed in select areas zoned for larger single-family or duplex residential located close to transit stops. Municipalities may permit additional density if desired, but cannot have bylaws that allow for fewer permitted units than the provincial legislation. Local governments must bring current bylaws into compliance with the province by June 2024. Perhaps most controversially of all, public hearings will be phased out for rezoning applications that fall within official community plans.

Say goodbye to to leafy Shaughnessy and Oak Bay. It will be fun to watch the mega rich in these communities squirm. In Oak Bay a 15 unit condo on Oak Bay Ave was stalled by a handful of CAVE dwellers (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) for 11 years. Kudos to the BC govt. Could Ontario be next?

14th November 2023 at 2:39 pm
James Osborne

Doug Ford entered politics from the far right, tiptoed toward the middle, and now is bogging down with a foot on either side (or is it neither side?) of the picket fence.

14th November 2023 at 11:58 am
Michael F

That’s because Dougie would rather be at his cottage with his buddies instead of making actual decisions.

14th November 2023 at 1:18 pm
Rudyard Griffiths

Sounds anatomically like a very uncomfortable position!

14th November 2023 at 12:05 pm

Excellent suggestions — let’s hope that Ford reads and considers your opinion. Anything that helps streamline the planning and approval process for new housing would be a step in the right direction. As long as City planners are rewarded for their caution and delay, we will be playing catch-up with immigration for years, if not decades. If all levels of government truly wanted to “solve” this, they could. This is one issue we already know how to fix.

14th November 2023 at 9:52 am
The Hub Staff

Thank you for contributing to the discussion here. Steve Lafleur’s piece discusses average home pricing and the lack of affordability:

14th November 2023 at 2:48 pm

Here’s the thing. Supply and demand guide the commercial aspect of every day life. Artificial demands and or big government building subsidization interrupts any chance of “balance”. We all know who pays for incompetency when government intervenes.

14th November 2023 at 9:39 am
Paul Haliburton

For years the Province has set land use policies and the municipalities run by lefty green councilors have run with it. The result is that municipalities have made it so difficult for a builder to construct housing that builders stopped doing so. Even in sparsely populated areas it has become almost impossible for a family to sever a small piece of property in order that a son or daughter can build a home in order to raise a family. Try obtaining a permit for any type of project involving land use or housing construction anywhere in the province and you will soon learn that current Provincial policies implemented by municipalities make it nearly impossible to do so.

14th November 2023 at 9:18 am
Jeff Hanks

6000 families waiting up to 10 years for affordable housing . More than 2000 homeless growing daily. Over 200 people have died on the streets in my city. Ford took away rent controls and the policy is killing people. It saves money to house people. Ford’s policies just enrich his friends and cost taxpayers double (private clinics for instance). Right wing pitics gas failed people on every level yet here we are.

14th November 2023 at 9:01 am
A. Chezzi

This is what I find very confusing about Con. They argue for small government. They want government to get out of the way so those who are affected by policy make the policy but when the municipalities in this case want to work with the feds in creating solutions to their problem. Con premiers cry foul. You cannot have it both ways. Doug Ford has shown, through the land scandal, that he is not ready to lead in this crisis or any other crisis. You don’t argue for allowing the front lines to make decisions and then ramp a decision down their throats with MZO s. It is the same in health care. He argued for additional funding, got it and then we find out he is sitting on a surplus which he isn’t using for the benefit of Ontarians. You cannot argue affordability and then sit on money which could be used to make live affordable.
The provinces do have a role to play in this crisis but it seems they are being more obstructionists than helpful.

14th November 2023 at 11:43 am

It will be a very tough job and he does not have what it takes. Will be a very special person

14th November 2023 at 7:23 am