The Ontario Real Estate Association (“OREA”) is calling on the provincial government to cut red tape and build on the successful More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019 by ending Ontario’s exclusionary single-family zoning laws in high-demand areas.
Currently, it is illegal in Toronto neighbourhoods to convert a single-family home into a townhome, duplex, triplex or fourplex without a zoning by-law change—something OREA asserts delays projects, costs additional money, and leaves people stranded without affordable housing options. Calling them “outdated zoning laws that encourage NIMBY forces to drive up costs of homes,” OREA is encouraging the Province to use the Planning Act to implement as-of-right zoning in Ontario’s highest-demand urban neighbourhoods.
“In too many Ontario cities, it defies common sense that you can take a bungalow and turn it into a monster four-storey home for one wealthy family, but you cannot build affordable townhomes for multiple families without red tape, runaround, and exorbitant costs,” said OREA CEO Tim Hudak. “Exclusionary zoning policies are at the heart of Ontario’s housing affordability crisis in high-growth areas and it’s time the Province steps in to modernize these archaic laws.”
The association believes this zoning change would allow the seamless and legal development of gentle density, including duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes, next door to existing density and close to subway and transit stations without unnecessary and lengthy case-by-case approvals.
“You cannot grow south into Lake Ontario or north into the Greenbelt, so we need to use the space in between to create more homes and give more choice to Ontarians,” said Hudak. “High home prices are evidence enough that there are not enough homes to accommodate growing families across the province. But archaic rules and regulations are holding up new developments and exacerbating the problem – keeping the Canadian dream of home ownership out of reach for millennials and young families.”
According to recent OREA research conducted by Abacus Data, almost 7 in 10 Ontarians say housing affordability should be a top priority for the government. The report also found that 78 per cent of Ontarians support minimum zoning in urban areas to encourage more homes.
OREA’s recommendations to implement as-of-right zoning is part of its plan to bring housing affordability home for young families in Ontario. It also proposes to reduce costs for first time home buyers, reduce approval times for builders, and permit innovative housing solutions.
“On the heels of a federal election focused on housing affordability, this issue remains top of mind for many who badly want all levels of government to help bring affordability home – and that starts with increasing and improving housing supply,” said Hudak.