When it comes to finding a place to live in Toronto, it seems everyone is claiming a housing
shortage. There is an all-time low vacancy rate on rental properties, increasing prices on
houses, and an unprecedented demand on condos, with officials marking 2017 as the “Year
of the Condo.” But the recent studies don’t necessarily point to a lack of housing. Instead,
they are trending towards a lack of land suitable to build on, which significantly impacts
housing availability.
One example of this lack of land is seen in brownfield areas: areas that were once industrial
or commercial land and are now being turned into residential land. The process, however, is
slow – and in many cases, too slow. These areas are often filled with contaminants or toxic
chemicals from the industrial factories and workplaces that were once there, and these
hazardous chemicals must be removed before the land can be approved for residential use.
A good example of this is the Quarry Lands at Victoria Park Avenue. Underneath the
deceiving plants of this grassy field lies toxic sludge that inhibits the development of the area
as a residential zone. And in effect, impairs the development of housing for thousands of
Perhaps more pressing than needing to wait to clean up chemicals, however, is needing to
wait for city services to validate land as suitable to build on. Many development companies
apply for city approval for land development, only to have to wait several years before it is
passed. In addition, 60% of developers indicate that the issues have also been exacerbated
by things such as the Places to Grow Act, which forces restrictions on where developers can
and can’t build housing in an effort to maintain fertile soils and heritage property.
While there may indeed be a lack of housing in Toronto, leaving many residents struggling to
find a place to live, it’s not for lack of developers trying to offer more housing. In fact,
they’re trying for quite the opposite, only to meet too many other negating hurdles along
the way.


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