Open Letter to Premier Wynne

Dear Premier,

Across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, housing affordability is a major issue. Younger Ontarians are working longer to save up for a down-payment, and prices continue to rise. Families are struggling to find suitable housing options in neighbourhoods connected to jobs and amenities that don’t increase their commute.

Unfortunately, there have been calls by some groups to focus on increasing urban sprawl across the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, even though it’s hurting affordability and plaguing our region with high costs and taxes while threatening water sources and prime farmland. This approach to the affordability problem comes at the expense of actually making life more affordable for everyday people.

The costs of continued sprawl are felt by home buyers facing longer commutes from car-dependent communities. The increased costs to municipalities to provide expensive roads and miles of sewer pipes to low-density developments are passed on to residents through higher property taxes. The services and amenities families need like reliable transit, parks, shops, childcare and recreation are less accessible, and can make two cars an expensive necessity.

There are real solutions to make housing more affordable. The policies laid out in the Growth Plan are supported by 8/10 Ontarians, who agree that we need more mixed-use housing, more access to transit and less sprawl.

Affordability means more housing choice so that young adults and families have a place to start out and retirees can downsize within their neighbourhoods. Complete communities with more compact neighbourhoods reduce the cost of delivering services, and mean families might not need another car and the huge costs that go with it. Focusing growth in already built-up areas means we can support transit and reduce commute times and it means the roads and sewers already exist and are paid for. These are meaningful steps that make life easier, lowers Ontarians’ tax burdens, and make housing choices more affordable. 

To build a more affordable, livable region, we call on the Province to stand firm to support measures that:

  • Improve access to housing in existing communities across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Areas;

  • Require a mix of ‘missing middle’ housing choices including townhouses, semi-detached homes, family-sized condos, and midrise;

  • Improve rental affordability and fairness by bringing in rent control on buildings built after 1991;

  • Make better and more effective use of existing transit, infrastructure and services;

  • Make smart and efficient use of the 100,000+ hectares of land in the GGH already set aside for growth (1.5 times the size of Toronto)

Ontarians need real solutions to the emerging housing affordability problem, not reckless deregulation that only helps those who are already benefiting from our housing boom. It’s clear we can’t sprawl our way to affordability. 

We urge you to listen to the vast majority of Ontario residents and support affordable and accessible development through a strengthened Growth Plan.


Signatories

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David Crombie
Former Mayor of Toronto
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