Governments are sitting on 6,000 potential housing lots in GGH area

by Steve Randall30 Apr 2019

The lack of housing supply in the Greater Golden Horseshow area could be eased if the Ontario government takes a new approach to land utilization.

According to a new report from Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Lan Development (CUR), the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) and the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), the province should leverage the nearly 6,000 public lands across the region to provide lots for new homes.

“Across Ontario there are parking lots, aging under-utilized buildings and empty land lots owned by our governments that should be put to better use,” said Joe Vaccaro, OHBA CEO. “Now is the time for the province to take bold action and respond to real housing demand by taking a market-driven approach with these properties and create more housing and better affordability for home believers across the province.”

The report notes that many government-owned lands are being used for new housing projects but identifies many more that could help ease the supply issues in the region.

These include 180 parking lots in Toronto identified by Toronto Region Board of Trade; many one-storey LCBO buildings are surrounded by high-rises and could themselves be redeveloped into mixed use or residential developments; and surplus site development opportunities that are going untapped such as underutilized schools.

Huge difference to affordable homes supply
“The Province of Ontario, the Federal Government and the City of Toronto are the three largest land owners in the GTHA,” said Tim Hudak, OREA CEO. “With the dream of home ownership slipping out of reach for too many Ontarians, it’s time that the Government and its agencies stopped sitting on surplus and underutilized land. Freeing up even part of this

empty land can make a huge difference for affordable housing options for Ontario families.”

The report makes 4 key recommendations for the provincial government:

1. Identify and create an inventory of surplus and underutilized Government lands across Ontario including crown corporations and Government agencies such as LCBO and school boards;
2. Utilize land leasing of surplus land to private and not-for-profit builders to develop affordable housing and mandate it remains affordable;
3. Help municipalities weigh the costs and benefits of selling the land at market value versus below market value to support affordable housing;
4. Earmark some of the gains from market value sales of lands towards affordable housing projects.

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