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Zoning Reform Ideas

@allengeorge

You may be intrigued that the City is dropping its latest report Expanding Housing Options in neighbourhoods today, on the agenda for next week's Planning and Housing Ctte.

Some of it is overly wordy pablum; some hints at bigger things to come, but there are hints of constructive action in the nearer term as well.

First, the report link:


From the above:

1644331043951.png


My commentary: Fine, as far as it goes, but a fee of ~$11,500 is still excessive.

1644331180164.png


My commentary: The correct call is here to pull the major streets out of the 'Neighbourhood' zoning regime entirely. At the very least, for all 4-lane (or greater) roads with transit.
Just slap MCR on the entire lot of 'em'. Then address the permitted heights. While 4s is too low, its pro-forma for developers to get heights boosted, and that's less work than getting around the 'neighbourhoods' designation.
So limit that one to the interior of communities.

****

There's a bunch more stuff in there worth a look.

In general, lots of decent ideas, but a bit too much study/reporting and too light on nearer-term actions.
 
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@Northern Light Thanks for linking the report!

I’d agree with you: I think the fee should be reduced even further. Unsure why they stopped at 50%.

I’d again agree with you on what should be done with major streets; in fact, I’m curious how those strips can be justified as “Neighbourhoods” at all. It’s disappointing that your suggestion isn’t being considered. And of course, disappointing that we seem to be consulting forever… Maybe the province will end up forcing everyone’s hand.

Will skim the report later!
 
In general, lots of decent ideas, but a bit too much study/reporting and too light on nearer-term actions.
You can say that again! Sometimes it's so frustrating how slow this stuff moves.

Maybe the province will end up forcing everyone’s hand.
Mother of all MZOs to upzone every yellowbelt lot? ;)
 
Read the comments for a good laugh

While there certainly are some unreasonable comments, I found a great number to be quite reasonable.

This:

1644768710544.png


That's actually a fairly progressive take with a modest sprinkle of understandable self-interest.

***

Additionally there are are people noting:

1) This is more a demand problem than a supply one. That is absolutely non-negotiably true. I'm progressive on zoning and intensification and not opposed to population growth,
but its certainly true that if we slowed population growth to the level of 10 years ago, housing prices and rents would fall. Toronto does have record/near-record levels of housing starts and is up there
among the highest in North America. One cannot reasonably ignore the demand portion of the equation.

2) Investors, both foreign and domestic are buying up a material chunk of the new housing, and while many are renting out, many are not. MetroMan, a former regular poster here noted that
at his previous condo he was one of a handful of occupied units in his condo building (at least on his floor), the majority were vacant. This varies from one development to the next, but is certainly a factor.

3) That missing middle housing, and relaxed zoning while fine things, will not create housing affordable to low-income earners. A single individual on Social Assistance gets $733 per month, that includes housing and all other
expenses. No amount of building will get rents down to under $300 per month. Even for those working full-time at minimum wage, that's about 30k per year, gross.
By the time taxes, CPP and EI are deducted, you get a clear, pre-tax return pay of about $23,000 or just under $2,000 per month.
That would require rents in the range of $700 per month for someone to survive.

All of which means, income growth for the employed is critical, with minimum wage needing to be closer to $22 per hour than $15; those on Social Assistance also need greater financial support, but would require either
rent-supplements or purpose-built affordable housing to make ends meet.

****

On balance I thought there were alot of good comments
 
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While there certainly are some unreasonable comments, I found a great number to be quite reasonable.

This:

View attachment 379915

That's actually a fairly progressive take with a modest sprinkle of understandable self-interest.

***

Additionally there are are people noting:

1) This is more a demand problem than a supply one. That is absolutely non-negotiably true. I'm progressive on zoning and intensification and not opposed to population growth,
but its certainly true that if we slowed population growth to the level of 10 years ago, housing prices and rents would fall. Toronto does have record/near-record levels of housing starts and is up there
among the highest in North America. One cannot reasonably ignore the demand portion of the equation.

2) Investors, both foreign and domestic are buying up a material chunk of the new housing, and while many are renting out, many are not. MetroMan, a former regular poster here noted that
at his previous condo he was one of a handful of occupied units in his condo building (at least on his floor), the majority were vacant. This varies from one development to the next, but is certainly a factor.

3) That missing middle housing, and relaxed zoning while fine things, will not create housing affordable to low-income earners. A single individual on Social Assistance gets $733 per month, that includes housing and all other
expenses. No amount of building will get rents down to under $300 per month. Even for those working full-time at minimum wage, that's about 30k per year, gross.
By the time taxes, CPP and EI are deducted, you get a clear, pre-tax return pay of about $23,000 or just under $2,000 per month.
That would require rents in the range of $700 per month for someone to survive.

All of which means, income growth for the employed is critical, with minimum wage needing to be closer to $22 per hour than $15; those on Social Assistance also need greater financial support, but would require either
rent-supplements or purpose-built affordable housing to make ends meet.

****

On balance I thought there were alot of good comments
What do you suggest is done on the demand side?
 
What do you suggest is done on the demand side?

There are '5' principle sources of demand:

1) Normal domestic population, with demand fluctuating based on interest rates primarily

2) Investors, both foreign and domestic, purchasing multiple units

3) Immigration (normative, through the immigration process), set by annual quota by the Federal government.

4) Foreign students, brought in both by provincial action (approved program spots), and by federal action (permission to enter/work etc.)

5) Temporary Foreign Workers (includes, agricultural workers, but all caregivers/nannies and many who end up in industrial and fast food settings as well)

Each of these can be, and should be address in different fashion.

*****

In respect of #1; raise interest rates, eliminate first-time home buyer incentive programs, reduce desirability of home purchase as investment by eliminating principle residence capital gains exemption, or at least capping it)

In respect of #2; ban pre-construction purchase of more than 1 unit in a development by any business or person, eliminate the lower capital gains tax rate (charge normative income tax rates). Also cap the number of homes anyone can own at any one time, particularly in greater Toronto and Vancouver to not more than 3.

In respect of #3; Modestly reduce total immigration, just to the level of a few years ago, temporarily, until home/rent prices have moderated. Consider exemptions to the cap for areas than require immigrants just to hold population levels steady such as Newfoundland.

In respect of #4; Reduce the number of foreign students in community colleges, in particular, and in undergraduate programs as well (no reduction in graduate programs). Reduce to same level as a few years ago; mandate that colleges that wish higher number can have them provided they build sufficient student housing to meet the needs of any permitted students.

In respect of #5; Excepting agriculture (for now), eliminate TFW's for personal care (existing people here can stay); put a clear rule that to be for a TFW to be allowed they must be a high-skill job AND make a wage that is prevailing in their sector and at or above the median wage for Canada.
 
There are '5' principle sources of demand:

1) Normal domestic population, with demand fluctuating based on interest rates primarily

2) Investors, both foreign and domestic, purchasing multiple units

3) Immigration (normative, through the immigration process), set by annual quota by the Federal government.

4) Foreign students, brought in both by provincial action (approved program spots), and by federal action (permission to enter/work etc.)

5) Temporary Foreign Workers (includes, agricultural workers, but all caregivers/nannies and many who end up in industrial and fast food settings as well)

Each of these can be, and should be address in different fashion.

*****

In respect of #1; raise interest rates, eliminate first-time home buyer incentive programs, reduce desirability of home purchase as investment by eliminating principle residence capital gains exemption, or at least capping it)

In respect of #2; ban pre-construction purchase of more than 1 unit in a development by any business or person, eliminate the lower capital gains tax rate (charge normative income tax rates). Also cap the number of homes anyone can own at any one time, particularly in greater Toronto and Vancouver to not more than 3.

In respect of #3; Modestly reduce total immigration, just to the level of a few years ago, temporarily, until home/rent prices have moderated. Consider exemptions to the cap for areas than require immigrants just to hold population levels steady such as Newfoundland.

In respect of #4; Reduce the number of foreign students in community colleges, in particular, and in undergraduate programs as well (no reduction in graduate programs). Reduce to same level as a few years ago; mandate that colleges that wish higher number can have them provided they build sufficient student housing to meet the needs of any permitted students.

In respect of #5; Excepting agriculture (for now), eliminate TFW's for personal care (existing people here can stay); put a clear rule that to be for a TFW to be allowed they must be a high-skill job AND make a wage that is prevailing in their sector and at or above the median wage for Canada.
I'll address each of your points separately.

1. Doesnt eliminating first time home buyer incentive programs just "lock in" current owners and prevent upward mobility for those without a home? It's not a knock on your idea but genuinely curious.

2. We can debate the details but i agree with this one.

3. Truthfully, I've never thought immigration was a major issue. We can continue immigration as is while addressing your other points. Canada is a huge country and we can easily support many multiples our current population. The bigger challenge in my eyes is how to spread "work" across other cities / nodes than just the GTA.

4. Do you believe foreign students have a measurable effect on home prices?

5. Completely agree with this one.
 
I'll address each of your points separately.

1. Doesnt eliminating first time home buyer incentive programs just "lock in" current owners and prevent upward mobility for those without a home? It's not a knock on your idea but genuinely curious.

My take is that number of sellers in the current market is fixed; so by incenting more buyers, your simply driving up prices, not increasing supply.

If 10 people want to sell a house, and there are only 9 potential buyers, prices are forced down; if 10 people want to sell a house, but there are 11 potential buyers, prices are forced up.

If you offer (for argument's sake, just to pick a number) an incentive with a value of $10,000, and that brings 10% more buyers into the market, without increasing supply, you can pretty much
guarantee that all your going to achieve is driving up the price of the homes/condos available for sale.

2. We can debate the details but i agree with this one.

👍
3. Truthfully, I've never thought immigration was a major issue. We can continue immigration as is while addressing your other points. Canada is a huge country and we can easily support many multiples our current population. The bigger challenge in my eyes is how to spread "work" across other cities / nodes than just the GTA.

I'm pro-immigration, its simply a question of the rate of increase, in a relatively short period of time, with supply being unable to keep pace, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver.

4. Do you believe foreign students have a measurable effect on home prices?

Yes. Here's how.

Foreign students in the GTA alone have increased from roughly 10,000 a decade ago to 50,000 today. Net growth of 40,000

Universities and Community Colleges have built new purpose-built housing, but it barely keeps pace with domestic student growth, leaving us something like 30,000+ units short of meeting the demand we've created.

A large portion of those students rent; often from investors having bought condo units expressly for that purpose (impact on number of buyers); the students (or their families) may also be buyers, though I suspect this is less common, but I don't have hard data on the breakdown.

Either way, to the extent they enter the rental market, they compel an increase in rents since supply isn't keeping pace; and that in turn drives more renters into the ownership market, and so it goes.

The bottom line is that for every person we grow the countries population by whatever means (including the birth rate) we need to have the additional housing in place to meet that need.

The distinction of course, with a baby boom would be that we would have a roughly 20 year head's up to get capacity built, where as with foreign students the leadtime can be literally only a few months and not more than a few years. Meanwhile the lag time on supply is that if you need a new housing unit today, it will take in the range of 5 years to get it to occupancy, and that assumes you own the land already.


5. Completely agree with this one.
 
In respect of #2; ban pre-construction purchase of more than 1 unit in a development by any business or person, eliminate the lower capital gains tax rate (charge normative income tax rates). Also cap the number of homes anyone can own at any one time, particularly in greater Toronto and Vancouver to not more than 3.
We should be weary of not killing supply while trying to curb the demand side of the calculation.

New development is not just a factor of demand, but also of absorption in a set time period. If a project can't sell the units quick enough, then the financial metrics for the project may evaporate and the project dies. Those investors are what allows for many projects to proceed from planning to construction phase.

Higher taxes on second properties, and a prohibitive tax on empty units would be preferable IMO over an outright ban or cap.
 

Demand is here to stay for the short term

451K in 2024??? Where they all going to live?
Housing to the moon!

20% growth this year, next year, and every year until the sun dies!! Totally sustainable!

100 million Canadians debt bonded serfs by 2100!!!!!!!!
 
Housing to the moon!

20% growth this year, next year, and every year until the sun dies!! Totally sustainable!

100 million Canadians debt bonded serfs by 2100!!!!!!!!
Everybody is equal, but Boomers are more equal than others.

It's totally sustainable for the Boomers who run this f*****g country. It's unsustainable for the immigrants whom we're gaslighting, for young people whom we're screwing over, for our reputation, which we're flushing down the toilet with these prices and laundering, and for our economy, which is becoming unproductive. But hey, if it helps the rich ...
 
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