On April 2, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) launched its Building Answers public awareness campaign. The objective of the campaign is to demystify the development and home building process and to have a dialogue with residents about the housing challenges facing the region. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the hundreds of residents who submitted questions at BuildingAnswers.ca for us to answer over the past three weeks.
Here are the top 3 questions.
1. How will the housing affordability challenge impact their ability to purchase a home?
By far the largest number of questions we have received pertained to a resident’s ability to afford a home in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Questions even extended into the challenges related to finding rental properties and the status of purpose-built rental building in the region. Questions were received from young and old, from single parents to single-income families. Where means appeared to be a challenge to homeownership, we directed individuals to programs that exist to assist them and where means was not an issue, we informed residents to alternatives and considerations.
The answer to the question on affordability is that for many people looking for a new home, the solution relies on the ability of the GTA to fix the housing supply shortage in such a way that meets the housing demand of the 115,000 new people that come to the region every year. In Canada, 68 per cent of people own their own home, meaning that in order to house the present and future population, we need more than just homes for purchase. We need housing for rent, purpose-built rental and social housing. The barriers are complex, but to state the solution as plainly as possible, industry, government and the public need to find ways to build more housing faster and to mitigate unnecessary delays and costs on new housing.
2. Why is there so much development in the GTA?
This is a question that was asked in a variety of forms – from why is there so much development in my neighbourhood, to why are cities growing so fast.
The answer is that the GTA is a desirable place to live from a quality-of-life and economic perspective and it is growing by about 115,000 people per year. It’s a combination of natural growth, rural to urban migration, migration from other parts of Canada and immigration from other countries. These new residents need places to live, work and play. The region already has a housing shortfall. Since 2006, the GTA fell short of the provincial Growth Plan forecast by approximately 100,000 new homes and this issue has also been exacerbated by continued strong housing demand.
So, while residents of the GTA view cranes and graders as part of the problem, they are actually part of the solution as the industry builds to meet growth.
3. Why so dense?
Why are new communities so much denser that decades ago was a question that was asked a lot. Many of the questions came from a nostalgic place as the questions started with: “When I was young” type statement” to “I just want a little elbow room.”
This question can be answered in two parts. First, government regulations like the Growth Plan required development to be denser, which has had a tremendous impact of the type of housing getting built. Secondly, land values have escalated significantly since 2006, requiring more efficient land use in order to keep new housing prices to levels that the average family can afford.
Again, thank you for taking the time to submit your questions to us.
Please keep them coming and we will continue to answer them the best we can. Please visit buildinganswers.ca to submit your question.