Ontario's beleaguered Premier, Doug Ford, maintains the pretence that he needs Greenbelt land to tackle the Province’s housing crisis. Yet the task force which he himself appointed makes it clear Greenbelt land is not needed.
Figures from York Region's own Housing Affordability Task Force showed total housing supply of 1,126,960 units across the Province - that's housing approved and proposed. The figure excludes over 225,000 units under construction.
Ford and his discredited Housing Minister, the pitiful Steve Clark, told York Region it must deliver 150,000 units by 2031. A tall order you may think but the Region has a total housing supply of almost 200,000 units. But they may not all get built for the simple reason that municipalities grant approvals and developers build - or choose not to.
Hitting the target
“the total number of units under construction, registered, draft approved, and proposed exceed the forecast number of units required to achieve the Provincial housing target.”
“Draft Approved” units are lots in a plan of subdivision or plan of condominium which have draft but not final approval and registration. “Registered units” have been registered through a plan of subdivision, but have not yet been built.
The update gives figures for eight (out of nine) constituent municipalities. King has not been given a target. But there is no common baseline with some municipalities showing approvals from 2016 onwards and others going back to the early 2000s.
Housing and Servicing Allocations
Water and sewage capacity is critical and for as long as I can remember these so-called “servicing allocations” have been rationed. The Province dragged its feet for years, delaying approval for additional wastewater capacity. It's still up in the air following the cancellation by the Province of the North York Sewage Solutions project. Wastewater will be going down to Lake Ontario but we don't yet have all the details.
Here in Newmarket, if a developer chooses not to build then the allocation is withdrawn. That’s what happened with 22 George/39 Davis Drive where zoning was approved years ago for a total of 395 apartments and the landowner sat on his hands.
Freeman says municipalities will get the details of their capacity servicing assignments in November. But without a big increase in servicing allocations in Newmarket I don't know how the Town will be able to deliver Ford's target of 12,000 units.
The Chief Planner’s report sits alongside an update on housing needs.
The number of renter households in York Region doubled from 2001-2021 and rents have skyrocketed. The supply of rental housing has not kept pace with demand at a time when homeownership has been priced out of the reach of many people.
The Housing Needs Analysis for York Region makes bleak reading.
Renters are relying increasingly on the so-called secondary rental market (where owners rent out their property or part of it). The analysis gives eyewatering figures for rents.
“The average price for a leased condo in 2022 ranged from $1,700 (bachelor) to $3,200/month (3+ bedroom), and the average price for a leased single or semi- detached unit ranged from $3,100 (3-bedroom) to $4,700 (5+ bedroom), both of which are well above regional affordable rental thresholds which range from $1,300 (bachelor) to $2,350 (3+ bedroom).”
13% of all households in York Region in "housing need"
I learn that 50,000 households – about 13% of all households in York Region - are in core housing need which means they are spending more than 30% of their gross income on housing or their home is too small. Owners in core housing need spent a crippling 56.3% of their income just to keep a roof over their heads. Renter households spent 49.4% of their income on housing. (Though these are 2016 figures.)
It is time for Ford to tell his friends, the developers, to get building the homes that people need and to stop blaming municipalities for causing the crisis.
And he must return the land at Bathurst (and elsewhere) to the Greenbelt.