https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2022/10/25/ontario-is-planning-sweeping-new-housing-changes-heres-five-things-that-could-mean-for-toronto.html

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark released some details of the province’s latest plan to build 1.5 million homes by 2031.

On Twitter, Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s former chief planner and the founder of development company Markee Developments, called the provincial proposal “bold, thoughtful, specific.”

City staff say they need more time to study the More Homes Built Fast Act tabled at Queen’s Park on Tuesday that puts a target of 285,000 homes to be built in Toronto by 2031.

The city’s current chief planner, Gregg Lintern, said there were 162,757 proposed homes in the city’s development pipeline at the end of 2020. Those units had their first planning approval, building permits or were under construction but not yet built.

The city has approved 28,000 homes per year over the past five years and an average of 15,000 units per year have been built.

Here are some of things Toronto and GTA municipalities could see more and less of as a result of the new housing policy.

More three-bedroom, family-friendly apartments

The housing legislation would reduce development charges on purpose-built rental construction, but there would be deeper discounts of up to 25 per cent for family-sized units.

That is particularly important in the current financial climate where interest rates are rising fast, said Keesmaat.

“There’s a part of housing delivery which is just math. When the math works, developers show up and they build housing. When the math doesn’t work, they don’t,” she said.

Right now, the math doesn’t work on a lot of projects and they are being put on hold.

The incentive of reduced development fees “are really smart and useful,” said Keesmaat.

More — and different kinds of — housing in single-family neighbourhoods

In Toronto, where the city already allows garden, laneway and secondary suites, this change is more incremental, said Keesmaat. It is expected to add only about 50,000 homes to the 1.5 million the province wants built in Ontario by 2031.

It will, however, add density and more rentals as homeowners are allowed up to three units on their property. One residential lot could have a house with a basement suite and a laneway unit in the backyard. There would be no minimum size for any of the housing units and no more than one parking space per unit could be required.

Keesmaat says that matters because it crosses “that rubicon of allowing more intense forms in single-family neighbourhoods.”

It changes the way we think about land use and density in areas that have historically been protected from density altogether, she said.

Fewer housing developments held up at the Ontario Land Tribunal

The province wants to limit third-party appeals from individuals or groups, including resident groups, who are not directly involved in official plan amendments, zoning bylaw amendments and minor variances.

While that might set the teeth on edge of some residents’ groups, Keesmaat says the planning system is structured to include public meetings along the way.

“There are still really good mechanisms for public participation, which is absolutely critical to the process,” she said.

The new rules would, however, remove the scenario where two wealthy neighbours delay the building of housing for years, said Keesmaat.

Fewer rental replacements

Currently, if an apartment building with six or more units is demolished for redevelopment, cities can specify the size and number of replacement units in the new building.

It’s a policy designed to preserve rental stock, but the province says it can also prevent renewal of deteriorating housing stock.

It promises to consult on removing rental replacement policies and that is critical, said Keesmaat. She fears that the elimination in rental replacements will mean rising homelessness in Toronto.

“It will be open season on low-income apartment buildings in this city,” she said. “You will see people being displaced because we already have a shortage of low-income housing.”

More schools in new dense neighbourhoods

The province is gathering a new working group to consider innovative ways of incorporating schools in high-density communities and how they can be built quickly so children aren’t bused or shunted between schools further from their homes. A government handout to reporters used the example of a new Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School for 455 students being built through a partnership between the Toronto District School Board and Menkes Developments near the foot of Yonge Street on the waterfront.

Tess Kalinowski is a Toronto-based reporter covering real estate for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @tesskalinowski