Toronto Mayor John Tory unveiled an "ambitious" plan to build new housing in the city over the next decade. The plan includes sweeping changes to zoning bylaws to allow multi-unit dwellings in neighbourhoods currently restricted to single-family homes. Tory said the city needed to "take a more aggressive approach" to the housing crisis.
Tory wants to create "transition zones" between commercial and residential areas, and remove "exclusionary zoning" in single-family neighbourhoods. He also wants to review the city's official plan, urban design guidelines, heritage standards and urban forestry policies.The mayor's housing plan also includes a post-secondary housing strategy for city students, collaboration with school boards to encourage housing on their property, expansion of existing co-op and non-profit rental units, and an update to the Open Door Program for affordable housing.
Councillors are being asked to approve measures for encouraging "gentle density" — multiplexes and small apartment buildings — as well as support for a multi-tenant housing bylaw. The mayor is also asking council to approve the legalization and regulation of rooming houses citywide. Rooming houses are currently only legal in the former cities of York, Toronto and Etobicoke if the operator has a licence, but they exist illegally elsewhere.
The province's Bill 23 sets targets for municipalities to build 1.5 million homes in 10 years. Richard Lyall, president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) "We've got to stop fiddling while Rome burns," Lyall said. Tory has been under fire from critics for getting "strong mayor" powers from the province.