Getting Toronto to say ‘yes’ to rental housing
It's become commonplace to hear backlash to building new developments in Toronto's core. How do we get people to say "yes" to intensification?
By: Michelle German
In the GTA, it’s become commonplace to see community groups routinely saying no to new developments and new kinds of housing, especially in established areas with access to transit, schools and other amenities. Just look at the recent high-profile backlash to a small condo development in the Annex.
At a time when many are struggling to find housing that is the right size, right price and in the right location, it’s important to wonder: how can we get more people to say yes to intensification — building in our communities, instead of outside them.
Evergreen’s recently-released report Getting to 8,000: Building a Healthier Rental Market for the Toronto Area (PDF 3.9MB) details the current rental market in the Toronto Area, the need for new purpose built rental units and how to make it happen. To get there, we need to encourage new rental development by providing compelling government incentives and we need to unlock land reserved for low-density housing.
Many households in Toronto are over-housed while even more struggle to find suitable places to live. Still, low-density neighbourhoods that are losing population continue to oppose new developments proposing additional density. We need to have an honest and mature discussion about our housing stock.
By 2041, the GTA is set to grow by 2.9 million people to a total of 9.6 million people. That’s over 120,000 people each year. Growth and density are inevitable. The bottom line is we need to make better use of residential space in Toronto.
This challenge poses an opportunity for residents to become involved in how the city grows – new development provides the occasion for folks to have a say in shaping how their communities will grow and change. Instead of opposing new development, we need to reframe the conversation and work towards constructive dialogue. How can development improve existing neighbourhoods? Simply introducing more diverse housing types will make a neighbourhood more resilient by virtue of having folks of all ages and incomes. Can improved public space, better transit service and additional amenities like day care also be part of the discussion?
A housing system works best when all voices are heard. These graphics help depict some of the important findings in our report. Share them online and make it known that you want an investment into a healthier rental market for Toronto.
Michelle German is a senior manager of policy and partnership with Evergreen, and co-author of the above report.