The rising costs of housing for prospective home-buyers and renters has been on a lot of people’s minds lately - and there’s been a lot of speculation in the news about why housing costs continue to rise. A new letter to the Premier, co-signed by TEA and 19 other organizations and individuals, offers a fresh and factually-accurate perspective on the issue.
The rising costs of housing for prospective home-buyers and renters has been on a lot of people’s minds lately - and there’s been even more speculation in the news about why housing costs continue to rise. A new letter to the Premier, co-signed by TEA and 19 other organizations and individuals, offers a fresh and factually-accurate perspective on the issue.
Over the last 12 months, some in the development industry have been arguing we need to scrap the environmental laws that curb urban sprawl. They want the public to believe building subdivisions of large, expensive single family homes on unserviced agricultural and wilderness space is the magic formula to housing affordability.
While sprawl makes lots of money for some developers, it actually drives up the cost of housing -- both for new homeowners and for renters -- a point made by the 20 environmental groups, anti-poverty groups, developers and prominent Torontonians in their letter to the Premier:
“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.”
The letter goes on to argue affordable housing doesn’t require paving over farms and natural spaces on and around the Greenbelt. Rather, we need to build more complete communities in built up areas that contain a mix of townhouses, semi-detached homes, family-sized units in condos and midrise buildings that are affordable to young adults, families, and retirees:
“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.”
The good news is that the Province has the laws in place to make this happen. The Provincial Growth Plan and Greenbelt Plan are specifically designed to provide municipalities and developers with incentives to build complete communities and disincentives to curb urban sprawl.
Not surprisingly, these laws don’t sit well with those developers who make money from urban sprawl.
Developer-led attacks on these laws are meant to distract the public from the fact that developers have refused to build an affordable housing mix close to existing built-up areas. And the attacks ignore the fact that there are 100,000+ hectares of land ready for development - plus even more under-utilized land within cities close to transit and serviced roads.
The challenge now is to ensure the Province doesn’t give in to the self-interest of some developers and change laws to open the Greenbelt and other important agricultural and wilderness land to costly urban sprawl. You can help to stop this from happening by sending a letter to the Premier today. Doing so helps make housing more affordable, protects the Greenbelt, our farmers and our natural environment.