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Toronto city councillors want to make housing even less affordable. Ontario’s stopping them

By Ash Navabi for Financial Post

Building more homes just became easier in two of the most densely populated areas in Ontario: Toronto’s downtown core and its “midtown,” a small strip of land centred at Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave. For anyone interested in finding a place to live in those areas, this is great news.

Unfortunately, the responses from many Toronto city councillors and city staff have been more dire. After spending several years preparing and conducting studies, surveys and consultations with the current residents of those neighbourhoods, the city was set to introduce a wide array of (generally unprecedented) new constraints on new development through its “Midtown in Focus” and “TOcore” plans. Among other provisions, it had plans to prescribe how many two- and three-bedroom units must be included in larger new buildings including condo developments, and wanted to prescribe an increase to the required minimum sizes of those units.

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The government of Ontario last week wisely overruled those plans. The province determined that the new proposals were incompatible with its growth expectations for the city. In midtown, not only did it significantly relax height maximums, it also introduced language to the plan that will make it easier to build more duplexes, triplexes and other “gentler” forms of density in the area’s so-called stable neighbourhoods. The city’s proposed increases to minimum-unit-sizes requirements were also scrapped. But, cementing a policy analogous to requiring sports stadiums to dedicate 10 per cent of their seating capacity to box suites, the multi-bedroom prescriptions unfortunately survived.

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