How developers can fund Toronto subway expansion

by Neil Sharma12 Oct 2018

According to the Ontario Real Estate Association’s CEO, funding for the expansion of Toronto’s skeletal subway system could come from developers building high-rise condominiums on top of transit stations.

“Instead of building a subway station that’s one-storey tall, why don’t we build a condo on top of that,” said Tim Hudak told REP. “We live in Canada for goodness sake and people would kill to just go to the subway instead of putting on the parka and boots every day.”

Housing that’s near transit fetches top dollar and Hudak reckons that developers would line up to build a high-rise on top of a subway station.

“Developers would have a bidding war if a new subway station was close to their properties, so why not use some of that money to expand our transit lines,” he said. “What’s not smart is allowing [development] to go through areas that have one level or two levels of housing. That means building more homes and building higher on top of subway and GO Stations. That will make a huge difference because millennials are interested in that kind of housing as well.”

The Ontario Real Estate Association, Ontario Home Builders’ Association and the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario hosted the Housing Summit at the Toronto Region Board of Trade this week to discuss the region’s housing issues and to lobby Premier Doug Ford to rectify them.

One particularly pressing problem is rent control, which was introduced in the Fair Housing Plan by the previous provincial government headed by Kathleen Wynne.

“We have a supply problem and need to bring on more product,” said FRPO President and CEO Tony Irwin. “The action taken by the previous government wasn’t helpful; it didn’t address the core problem. We need more density and more intensification, so how do we find the right mix of regulations and policies that will enable that to happen? The last government got that wrong, and our hope is that the new government will get it right.”

The dissolution of the Ontario Municipal Board was also discussed at the Housing Summit—specifically that it’s exacerbating housing supply issues by opening the door to more strident NIMBYs.

“We also believe you have to have a strong referee, so the Ontario Municipal Board—while not universally popular, because nobody ever likes the referee—was an important way to ensure there was transparency and timeliness in decision on new housing developments,” said Hudak.

Hudak doesn’t believe the GTA’s housing issues are being swept under the rug. On the contrary, they have been front and centre ahead of the Oct. 22 municipal election.

“I attended the debate TREB hosted between John Tory and Jennifer Keesmaat and I thought it was really good that they had the two leading candidates for mayor talking about the housing issues.”

 

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