As populations in Ontario’s largest cities grow and housing supply dwindles, Ontario Realtors are asking, where are people supposed to live? In light of new census data from Statistics Canada that shows populations in Toronto and surrounding municipalities are growing, and housing supply remains at record-low levels, the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) is reminding policy makers to turn their attention to increasing housing supply.
“Population growth is rapidly increasing in cities where we are also seeing some of the lowest levels of inventory in history,” said Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association. “Realtors and builders in this province have been saying that new homes and resale listings cannot keep up with the demand in the market. Population growth is not the problem here – the lack of housing availability is the problem; and if it is not fixed soon, we could have a severe affordability crisis on our hands.”
According to Statistics Canada’s May 2016 census, Toronto maintains its title as Canada’s largest city. It saw the largest increase in absolute numbers. The only other municipalities that came close to Toronto’s growth since 2011 were the larger Ontario centres, like Guelph, Oshawa, Barrie, Ottawa and the Kitchener-Waterloo region.
“This information is consistent with a recent CMHC (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation) report that showed the spillover effect of Toronto’s rising house prices,” said Hudak. “Clearly, this trend, combined with growing populations in other cities is going to put pressure on housing markets as well. From what Realtors and builders in these cities are saying, the pressure is already on.”
“If first-time buyers, young families, newcomers to our province, are going to have any chance at home ownership, provincial and municipal governments must focus on increasing housing supply,” said Hudak. “Government-imposed barriers are restricting builders from bringing more housing supply online. To make home ownership more affordable, the province should work with municipalities to loosen building restrictions, speed up approvals to allow developers to build “missing middle” housing types like townhomes, duplexes and stacked townhomes.”