Toronto multiplex policy aimed at boosting housing welcomed by observers
A new policy allowing single family homes to be converted into low-rise multiplexes in Toronto is being hailed by observers as a welcome move, although experts warn it won't make housing more affordable in Canada's most populous city right away.
Toronto councillors voted in May to amend a zoning bylaw to allow up to four residential units in a multiplex with the aim of increasing housing supply to meet skyrocketing demand.
The move could transform up to 70 per cent of what's known as the city's "yellowbelt," where only one single family dwelling per lot was previously permitted.
Experts say the change has the potential to address a severe housing shortage but caution that it may not tackle housing unaffordability -- at least in the short term.
"Increasing density is good but it isn't definitely the answer to everything," said Penelope Gurstein, the co-director at the Housing Research Collaborative, which studies affordable housing strategies.
- Download our app to get local alerts on your device
- Get the latest local updates right to your inbox
The new multiplex policy will increase land values, she said, and steps must be taken to ensure some level of affordability.
Gurstein, who is also a professorat the University of British Columbia, suggests allocating at least one unit as affordable housing in new multiplexes. She also said the city should work to expand availability of social housing and purpose-built rentals.
Toronto has long made headlines for its high housing costs.
April statistics from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board show the average price of a home in the city was $1,153,269, roughly four per cent higher than the $1,108,499 the average buyer paid in March.
April's supply level was much lower than the city has seen in the past, TREB said. New listings for the month totalled 11,364, down 38.3 per cent from a year ago.
Karen Chapple, the director of the school of cities at the University of Toronto, said the new multiplex policy follows similar moves by cities that include Vancouver, Minneapolis and Portland.
"Every city that has done this ... has been really happy with the results," she said, noting that more work is still needed to make a multiplex policy a success.
"It is just a start," Chapple said, explaining that the policy alone isn't enough if developers and the labour market aren't ready to take advantage of it.
Chapple suggested making it easier for individual homeowners to become what she called "citizen developers."
Giving those individuals access to capital, pre-approved templates for plans and education on how to convert homes to multiplexes could help, she said.
"To make it affordable by design, to make it so cheap to construct that people will charge less rent ... that is what has happened in other areas of the world, and that has worked pretty well," she said.
"The other thing to do is to make loans available to low-income homeowners."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took note of the new policy during a recent speech in Toronto.
"Innovations like this unlock supply and keep our neighborhoods dynamic but most importantly, they create the homes the Canadians need," he told a gathering of municipal leaders last week.
David Amborski, an urban planning professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, said the policy will have a "positive effect" on the housing market in the long run by increasing supply and providing more choice in housing type and location.
Prices, however, will still be based on market conditions, he noted.
"People are going to price their product at the market price," he said.
Population in parts of the "yellowbelt" have been dwindling for years, Amborski added, and increasing density in some neighbourhoods could revive them while employing underutilized infrastructure.
But not everyone is thrilled with the multiplex move.
Coun. Stephen Holyday, who voted against the policy, said new multiplexes will create tensions within neighborhoods and drive away the dream of owning a detached home for some -- without making housing affordable for others.
"If you look deeply into the proposals, you will find out that you can build a very, very large multiplex unit, next to a detached home ΓÇª that is going to create friction within neighborhoods," he said.
The policy could put individual homebuyers at disadvantage against investors and developers who may outbid families to buy detached homes and make sizeable profits by converting them into multiplexes, Holyday said.
"The cost will become higher to have a detached home because the intrinsic value of the land is higher because of its rental potential," he said, noting that developers building multiplexes could also charge "handsome" rents.
Industry insiders say Toronto's need for more housing outweighs those concerns.
Anu Joshi, a Toronto realtor, said the policy is a good move because it targets housing supply.
While many homeowners may not want to construct a multiplex right away, or have the financial means to do so, there are no longer any legal barriers for those interested in expanding their properties, she said.
"The bottom line is that there are too many people and not enough housing," she said. "This is definitely a welcome measure."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2023.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
In defiance of a King's Bench ruling, Saskatchewan's premier plans to force a controversial school pronoun policy into law.
Officials were called to the southern California home of Britney Spears on Wednesday to conduct a wellness check after the singer posted a video on social media depicting her dancing with knives.
EXCLUSIVE 'A shock and an embarrassment': Canada's governor general on Parliament's recognition of Nazi veteran
Canada's Gov. Gen. Mary Simon says Parliament's recognition of a man who fought for a Nazi unit during the Second World War was 'a shock and an embarrassment,' and she's considering personally reaching out to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The premier of the Northwest Territories has announced she won't be running for re-election in November.
Police in Barrie continue to canvas a west-end neighbourhood, searching for answers after a vehicle explosion at an Anne Street apartment complex Wednesday morning.
A Canadian class-action lawsuit alleges the effectiveness of Cold-FX products was falsely advertised, and seeks compensation for anyone who bought the products.
Looking for baby name inspiration? A recent list of the top 20 baby names in 2022 may help with your search.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Thursday with India's foreign minister amid a simmering row between New Delhi and Ottawa over allegations of Indian government involvement in the killing of a Sikh activist in Canada.
A Phillies fan and his emotional support animal, an alligator named WallyGator, were denied entrance to watch Philadelphia host Pittsburgh.
Swedish manufacturer Northvolt says it will build a $7 billion gigafactory for electric vehicle batteries near Montreal that it claims will represent the largest private investment in Quebec's history.
The man arrested in connection with the deaths of two women in Longueuil was charged with two counts of second-degree murder on Thursday.
Jean-Marc Beaudin, 73, appeared at the Sept-Iles courthouse in Quebec's Cote-Nord region on Thursday after being arrested by provincial police (SQ) on charges of sexually abusing minors.
Kristin Bailey says her neighbourhood dog park has become dangerous. While at a dog park in Woodstock, Ont. Monday, she said she was attacked by a man who lives in a nearby homeless encampment.
The provincial government has confirmed the location for the WSIB's new headquarters in London will be in the former 3M building. There was a push to have the province bring those office jobs downtown.
Waterloo regional police have named a suspect in the murder of 18-year-old Joshua Tarnue and arrested another person in connection to the shooting.
The Kitchener Stray Cat Rescue is searching for a new home after finding out the building they are currently in is being turned into a high-rise apartment.
Kitchener Fire and paramedics are on scene of a crash involving an LRT train and a car on King Street South.
A 48-year-old Garson man has been charged with drug impaired driving after crashing his vehicle on Highway 17 in Lively on Thursday morning, police say.
While refusing to name names, Canadore College president George Burton doubled down Thursday on his insistence that an international student protest earlier this month was nothing more than a "publicity stunt."
A 33-year-old man has been arrested following a frightening incident at a North Bay high school.
The South Keys Health Centre, located at Bank Street and Hunt Club Road, is set to open next week and clinic officials say thousands of potential members are already on the waiting list, ready to pay $400 per person a year for access.
Taxi passengers are now paying an extra $5.56 for pickup at the Ottawa International Airport, as taxi drivers pass on an airport-related fee to customers.
Nanos Research says the online survey found 81 per cent of non-active users want Queen Elizabeth Driveway open for driving year-round, while 78 per cent of respondents identified as active-users want the QED closed to vehicles seven days a week year-round, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
As Windsor-Essex and cities across the country deal with an affordable housing crisis, one rental listing in Windsor is catching the eye and ire of one city councillor.
The City of Windsor is searching for a new live-in heritage custodian and maintenance attendant at Willistead Manor.
Investigators are appealing to the public for help finding a 14-year-old girl from Georgina who hasn't been seen or heard from in nearly a month.
A Barrie teen convicted of murdering a 15-year-old boy in a foster home four years ago will remain in custody after a judge confirmed he wouldn't be released at a sentencing review hearing.
Firefighters in the Sunshine City managed to avoid a stinky situation with some quick-thinking and solid teamwork.
Nova Scotia and the federal government's joint announcement to construct more than 220 public housing units on Wednesday is looked at as a step forward in the right direction, but critics say that number falls short of what's needed to address the housing crisis.
Nova Scotia's government is launching a review of its freedom of information legislation after years of criticism that the current system results in blacked-out government documents and a toothless review process.
Canada has seen exponential growth across the country over the last year according to new data released by Statistics Canada and the three Maritime Provinces are at the top of the chart.
Police have charged a man with attempted murder and more following a shooting outside Calgary International Airport on Wednesday.
It only comes around once a year and it doesn’t stay long, but this year’s larch season has people flocking out to the mountains in Alberta.
A man from a First Nation in southern Alberta has filed a human rights complaint against the provincial health agency and a local hospital, alleging anti-Indigenous discrimination led to the death of his wife.
The Winnipeg Police Service’s homicide unit is investigating after a woman was found dead in the Daniel McIntyre neighbourhood Thursday morning.
One-third of Manitobans say the provincial government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has made them not want to vote for the Progressive Conservatives come election day, according to new polling.
'We’re going to be here': Landfill blockade removed, but protesters will still make their voices heard
A blockade set up Wednesday evening leading to the Brady Landfill came down on Thursday, but the protesters who put it up say they will be back if they need to be.
Vancouver police are investigating the disappearance of a woman who has been involved in an ongoing murder trial.
B.C.'s public vaccination campaign for the fall respiratory illness season will begin Oct. 10, health officials announced Thursday.
Jim Kelly, 68, has been living in an encampment off Highway 1 in Abbotsford for about six months. Recently, his 41-year-old son moved there too.
A man is dead following a mishap Thursday at West Edmonton Mall's parkade.
University of Alberta closes endowment fund named after Nazi veteran recognized in the House of Commons
The University of Alberta is apologizing for having an endowment fund provided by Yaroslav Hunka, the Nazi veteran recognized in Parliament last week.
An Edmonton man won $50 million in a lottery draw earlier this month.