Op Ed: Anti-developer hyperbole threatens affordable housing in Ontario


As the housing crisis in Ontario continues, legislation is finally being passed to address the severe lack of housing supply.

Bill 23, or the More Homes Built Faster Act, received Royal Assent on November 28, 2022. The Act amends the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA) and previous regulations to reduce the red tape that slows down housing construction and other priority projects, while continuing to conserve heritage properties that matter most to local communities.

Yet, despite ongoing efforts from developers to work with municipal and federal level government, there remains an imbalance in public opinion and media that paints developers as being the “true culprit” behind rising housing costs.

Not only is this untrue, but this discourse is dangerous, as it reinforces an anti-developer message that fails to consider this fact: you can’t solve the housing crisis without more supply — and you can’t have more supply without developers.

Bottom Line: Bill 23 will improve supply shortage

Here’s the point: Developers are not the cause of housing affordability issues. The causes of housing affordability are varied and complex, but the primary one is simply a lack of supply. Prospective homebuyers are forced to compete for the same few homes, which drives up costs exponentially, according to the Report of the Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force.

Canada needs to build more homes more quickly if the country has any hope of getting a handle on its affordability crisis in the near future, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC)

There is a clear problem of undersupply that is especially true in Ontario. According to CMHC, more than 22 million housing units must be built by 2030 to help achieve housing affordability for everyone in Canada. The goal is to ensure everyone, regardless of income, has access to affordable housing.

The lack of affordable housing units is a significant part of the problem. By enabling developers to build more affordable housing, they can play a vital part in easing the housing crisis. In doing so, this will relieve the competition in the rental and homeowner markets, providing stabilization and a reduction in cost.

Changing the narrative around developers

Developers are key players in ensuring that more housing units are built. Yet, the public conversation about developers accuses them of trying to bypass barriers to maximize profits.

Of course, developers build units to meet demands and need to make profit to conduct their business.  After all, they run for-profit businesses.  However, it doesn’t mean they are to blame for the current state of the housing market.

The fact of the matter is the municipalities in the GTA are facing a crisis not because of developers, but because councils are failing to approve development applications in time. The BILD’s second Municipal Benchmarking study details the excruciating approval times, as well as the cost increases associated with it.

You also have to bear in mind that developers have to operate within a highly regulated environment where, oftentimes, municipalities fail to approve housing projects. There is no way for developers to bypass the necessary steps required to ensure all housing developments fall within the parameters required by the province.

Instead of demonizing developers who are looking to add infrastructure to municipalities in Ontario, there needs to be a collective effort from all parties involved to address the housing crisis.

Federal and municipal governments, developers, and even the public at large play a crucial role in ensuring that in the next 10 years, the average cost of housing is within reach for everyone.

Instead of in-fighting, assigning blame, or petty squabbles, it’s high time to work together to create a better, more affordable Ontario.

Scott Blum

The views, opinions and positions expressed by all columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of NetNewsLedger.

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