As concerns around the housing crisis in Ontario and beyond continue to grow, the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) is hosting its third annual summit on the subject.
“The intent of the summit was to have a regular touchpoint on what progress has been made since the last one and where are we at. I think certainly the picture has changed substantially,” said RESCON president Richard Lyall.
“This is an update, a progress report. Some problems have been addressed. Many problems still remain to be addressed. One of the biggest things that remains to be addressed is the co-ordination between different levels of government and different agencies.”
The theme of this year’s summit, which will be held virtually on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 1 to 5:30 p.m., is Driving Solutions to the Crisis.
The summit will feature housing leaders, building officials and planners, elected officials, economists and researchers and will include keynotes, panel discussions and industry presentations. It is open to anyone interested in housing, housing supply and development.
Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow will be in attendance and there will be a mayors panel on the housing crisis.
“I think people need to hear her…She understands density and she understands the need for housing,” said Lyall.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is also expected to address attendees.
Also expected are City of Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie; Marlon Bray, senior director — cost consulting at Altus Group; Paul Smetanin, president at the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis; David Amborski, a professor at Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning and a professional urban planner; Arash Shahi, CEO of AECO Innovation Lab; and Mike Moffat, a housing, innovation, trade and regulatory expert.
Other sessions include a residential market update; Will the Feds Answer the Call; Streamlining Development Approvals; Modernization and Digitization of Approvals Process; Tax Changes to Unlock Purpose-Built Rental Communities; and a construction innovation and technology panel.
Organizers say those who attend will gain insights into the current housing landscape and learn strategies to overcome these challenges.
The good news is some progress has been made since the first housing summit took place three years ago, said Lyall.
“We now have the Toronto Housing Action Plan,” said Lyall. “There are some big things that still need to be done there like the as-of-right zoning along main streets corridors and arterial routes…but we have had some success like density around urban transit hubs and with the Toronto Housing Action plan, the yellowbelt triplexes and quads, being able to build those.”
Lyall said he’s also concerned housing production is starting to stall just as immigration numbers are going up.
“This could be a crisis turning into a catastrophe,” Lyall stated. “I used that line before and I thought ‘well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.’ But now it’s not.”
Change is starting to happen.
“Sometimes you have to hit a wall before change actually really starts to happen and we’re hitting that wall now,” said Lyall. “The unfortunate thing, it’s going to get a little worse before it gets better, assuming that we can get some of these remaining changes through and done and gain efficiencies.”
“We want to talk about these things at the summit,” he added. “We want to talk about innovation and we’ve tried to pick some of the best speakers we can find on key issues like where are we, where do we need to go…It’s kind of like a status update so it’s important, all in one nice tight session.”
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