Toronto city council approves call for 2023 Housing Action Plan

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Toronto City Council has directed staff to create a 2023 Housing Action Plan focused on “getting more homes built or made available” as quickly as possible while also making housing more affordable. The plan will also increase training in skilled trades and strategies to promote local hiring as necessary to increase construction market capacity

Planning rules and regulations will be updated to meet or exceed the provincial target of building 285,000 homes over the next 10 years and Toronto’s city manager must return no later than March 2023 with specific details including timelines, measurable targets, and specific units.

All forms of housing will be considered – from student housing to affordable housing to housing targets for the Portlands and waterfront communities and the approach to housing will be modernized by removing exclusionary zoning that has restricted growth to just a few areas.

“The 2023 Housing Action Plan takes bold, aggressive action to address the affordability and housing crises facing our city,” said Mayor John Tory. “This plan sets aggressive targets to get more housing built with lightning speed.

“With council’s support this week, we’ve taken a major step forward to ensuring that every Toronto resident has a place to call home.”

Staff will amend, review and introduce new and more effective bylaws, enhance and update existing housing system policies and put in place more accountability and transparency, including:

  • Amend the city-wide zoning bylaw to be more permissive from a housing opportunities perspective
  • Review official plan to ensure that it aligns with the need for more housing in areas identified for residential opportunities
  • Review urban design guidelines, heritage standards and urban forestry policies to ensure alignment with the priority of optimizing the delivery of housing opportunities for a range of housing forms
  • Amend zoning bylaw to increase zoning permissions on major streets and create transition zones between commercial and residential areas
  • Increase density through additional permissions, including but not limited to multiplex permissions and to remove exclusionary zoning
  • Revisit plans for waterfront developments and other major change area projects to ensure housing density is optimized

Also, Toronto will develop community housing intensification plans with specific targets that support and grow existing co-op and non-profit rental homes and add capacity for the sectors to be able to operate the new homes and work with school boards to encourage the creation of housing on their lands

Council also approved a new regulatory framework for Multi-Tenant Houses. This includes amendments to the licensing and zoning bylaws, which will make way for multi-tenant houses to operate legally across Toronto, subject to certain limits. Current zoning bylaws do not allow multi-tenant houses city-wide.

“We are taking immediate action to create more affordable homes in Toronto. The 2023 Housing Action Plan will allow us to bring in more housing and more affordability faster, by thoughtfully removing red tape and speeding up approval times,” Councillor Brad Bradford, planning and housing committee chair.

“We need to take bold actions to encourage the future prosperity of our city and make sure that everyone has access to housing.”

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