By Mike Collins-Williams, RPP, MCIP – CEO West End Home Builders’ Association for

Our housing crisis finally got the attention it deserves. All of Ontario’s major political parties in the recent provincial election agreed, Ontario needs to build 1.5 million more homes in the coming decade. The mandate of the newly elected majority government is clear: Get it done, and solve this crisis now.

One of the first steps is to get local anti-housing politics out of our long-term planning for growth. Even though there was an uptick in construction, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. recently released new research indicating that housing starts are still not keeping pace with our population growth. The best solution to fix the housing crisis is for us to build more homes of all types.

Difficult decisions

Municipalities have shown they can’t or won’t make the difficult decisions required to build more housing. Ontario municipalities need provincial intervention to help them address the crisis. As the Ontario Home Builders’ Association’s President Bob Schickedanz says: “We can’t regulate our way out of the housing supply shortage. We can’t tax our way out of the housing supply shortage. We can only build our way out of a housing supply shortage.”

Endless processes, outdated regulations and restrictions make it nearly impossible to build homes at the rate we know we need. Red tape, high taxes on housing and local government-imposed restrictions are choking the housing supply chain; be it newly-built communities, missing middle housing options such as townhomes and triplexes, or high-density housing on transit.

Cruel game of musical chairs

Across southern Ontario, we are witnessing the impact a shortage of available housing options has on the people and their community. More and more families are leaving an even more expensive and supply-constrained Toronto looking for larger homes and a piece of property. This endless wave of young people and families looking for affordable housing options results in bidding wars and rapid price escalation across the rest of south-central Ontario. It is like a cruel game of musical chairs where the lack of homes on the market means far more losers than winners. Young families, in particular, are getting priced out, and they are leaving our larger cities for more affordable communities further and further away.

In fact, over the past five years, more than 100,000 people have left the Greater Golden Horseshoe to find homes in other parts of the province. We are not building enough homes to keep up with demand, resulting in an exodus of families and young talent. Can you imagine where we will be in another decade if we don’t tackle the housing crisis right now?

With a new government in power with a mandate to build 1.5 million homes, it’s time to build.