TORONTO – A new study released by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) concludes the Growth Plan policies of the former Liberal government of Ontario had the consequences of lengthening the land development and approval process in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), which in turn has negatively impacted housing supply and affordability.
The GTHA Land Supply Analysis report published Nov. 20 by BILD and Malone Given Parsons Ltd. (MGP) found the percentage of available land that has been approved for new housing communities in the GTHA is 4.5 per cent and decreasing.
As well, some municipalities in the GTHA have yet to conform to the 2006 Growth Plan requirements, missing the 2009 target by nearly a decade, resulting in less housing being built across GTA municipalities versus Growth Plan forecasts, said a statement.
The BILD report said as land supply dwindles and as municipal delays increase, the value of serviced land has increased by over 300 per cent since 2006. Existing low density neighbourhoods in the GTHA are resistant to intensification, the study found, pushing density to urban cores and to new communities near the fringes of the GTHA.
The latter are far away from transit and infrastructure, putting a greater reliance on cars and increasing traffic congestion.
BILD concludes more gentle density homes (stacked townhouses and low-rise apartments) should be built within walking distance of transit in built-up areas of the GTHA. This will maximize investment in infrastructure and transit, the release said.
However, community resistance to increased density makes building in this area time-consuming, expensive and subject to intervention at the municipal level, the agency said.
The report recommends making more vacant land available for new communities, cutting red tape and reducing duplication in the planning and approval process.
BILD also suggests policy-makers should avoid pushing too much density to fringe areas and away from transit and existing infrastructure.
They should encourage moderate or gentle intensification across the region by clarifying and amending Growth Plan policies to encourage intensification across the GTHA; maximize investment in transit and infrastructure; and provide greater certainty for future development by identifying the agricultural and rural lands in the inner ring as future urban areas in the Growth Plan.