The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) is hosting a free virtual summit on March 3, 2022, to examine what caused the current housing crisis and explore short- and long-term solutions to the problem.

“The demand for housing shows no signs of abating and home prices are rising far beyond what most families can afford,” says RESCON president Richard Lyall. “We can no longer tinker around the edges of the system. It is time for concrete measures to be taken to speed-up the development review process so builders can get shovels in the ground quicker and generate more housing.

“We are in a crisis situation and the industry and all levels of government must be on the same page.”

The upcoming event, called Housing Supply Summit 2022: Solutions to Build More Homes, will run from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (EST). A diverse group of speakers will look at the reasons for the shortage and share their experiences and opinions on how to boost the supply of housing stock.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark, federal Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Ahmed Hussen, and Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman, who is chair of Ontario’s Big City Mayors, have been invited as keynote speakers. Jason Mercer, chief market analyst at the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, will set the table for the event with an outlook on the housing market.

The event will also feature remarks from political party leaders, presentations from Dentons counsel Mary Ellen Bench, Concept 2 Keys director Kris Hornburg, and CANCEA president Paul Smetanin. TVO reporter John Michael McGrath is moderator. There will be concurrent panels on:

  • Innovative approaches to delivering more housing: Kingston commissioner of community services Paige Agnew; TRBOT policy director Craig Ruttan; R-Hauz founder and principal Leith Moore; AECO Innovation Lab CEO Arash Shahi
  • What can we learn from other jurisdictions?: Ryerson School of Urban and Regional Planning professor David Amborski; Toronto councillor Ana Bailao; Catherine Stone, director of spatial planning, Western Cape government, South Africa; (tentative) Växjö, Sweden Mayor Anna Tenje.
  • Overcoming restrictive zoning: Solutions for ownership and rental housing: Federation of Rental Housing Providers president and CEO Tony Irwin; California YIMBY legislative director Louis Mirante; Eric Lombardi of More Neighbours Toronto; Naama Blonder of Smart Density
  • The elephant not in the room: labour supply shortages: Andy Brethour of PMA Brethour Realty Group; BuildForce Canada executive director Bill Ferreira; BOLT executive director Raly Chakarova; RESCON VP Andrew Pariser

Canada’s population-adjusted housing stock is the lowest of any G7 country, according to a new Scotiabank report. Ontario faces the biggest shortage of the provinces. Another 650,000 homes would have to be built to get Ontario to the same level of homes per capita as the average in other provinces. An additional 1.2 million homes would have to be built for the province to catch up to international peers.

The high housing prices, meanwhile, are affecting the talent pool in Canada. Banks are having trouble finding skilled talent. Royal Bank of Canada chief executive officer Dave McKay indicated in an interview with The Toronto Star that high housing costs are threatening to scare away skilled workers.

Lyall says the More Homes, More Choice action plan and a new Housing Affordability Task Force put in place by the Ontario government are positive moves while the City of Toronto has launched Concept 2 Keys which is transforming how planning and development applications are reviewed. However, more action is needed as the population is rising and the need for homes is growing.

“The skyrocketing prices in Toronto relative to income is by far the worst amongst G7 countries and with more than 400,000 immigrants coming to Canada each year, the situation will only get worse,” he says. “Developers, builders and other industry stakeholders must come together and work with government to find a solution to the problem. This housing summit is the first step in that process.”

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