How can we meet the housing needs of Canada’s growing population amid its transformational shift over the next 20 years?
At the end of July, Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development (CUR) responded to the government’s proposed land needs initiative for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH). The government detailed its proposed developments in a methodology for A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which explains the government’s aims to support economic growth, increase housing supply, produce job opportunities, and cultivate healthy communities comprising people of all ages.
The CUR concludes that this proposed methodology makes excellent progress on the previous 2018 methodology. The A Place to Grow initiative addresses further steps that will accommodate future demographic and market requirements, most notably by detailing affordable housing solutions. However, the CUR recommends two major changes to the proposal, which we will explore in this blog post. At the simplest level, these recommendations will further improve the affordability of homes and break down housing requirements by unit types.
First though, what is the Greater Golden Horseshoe?
The Greater Golden Horseshoe
The Greater Golden Horseshoe is a forward-thinking, rapidly growing region in North America. Many of Ontario’s scenic environments—from the Oak Ridges Moraine to the Niagara Escarpment—make up the GGH. These natural landscapes sustain many resource-driven industries, provide drinking water, and support biodiversity. With such well-established resources in place, the GGH is well-positioned to offer healthy lifestyles and reduce communities’ impact on the climate.
The prosperous region is home to many newfound communities that are building great futures—the GGH has so far generated over a quarter of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As an economic driving force in Ontario, the region’s highly educated and cosmopolitan population offers diverse knowledge and cultures, both of which are powering its major competitive advantage. It’s no surprise that the GGH region is a popular relocation spot for many people and businesses in search of economic opportunities and quality of lifestyle.
Challenges Associated With the Greater Golden Horseshoe’s Growth
As increasing numbers of people and businesses migrate to the GGH, the government has highlighted the challenges that could pose threats if we fail to implement key measures. The A Place to Grow framework plots how the government can protect against these challenges and achieve healthy growth for the GGH’s inhabitants.
The challenges and solutions detailed in the methodology include the following.
- The need for major infrastructure developments to meet the demands of the growing population, such as affordable housing and improved traffic solutions. To meet such demand, the government will prioritize intensification in strategic growth areas to efficiently utilize land, infrastructure, and transit viability. The government will also improve the integration of land-use planning with planning/investment in infrastructure and public service facilities.
- Uncertain employment opportunities as globalization redefines the regional economy. The government will capitalize on arising employment and economic opportunities to provide certainty for traditional sectors.
- The demand for more age-friendly developments. By 2041, we can expect over 25% of the GGH’s inhabitants to be over 60, meaning that there will be higher demand for accessible housing, healthcare facilities, and an overall age-friendly community design. To achieve this, the government will develop communities with all required amenities. In particular, the government will support a variety of affordable housing solutions to suit all sizes, ages, and incomes.
- Increased strain on the environment. We must also take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sustain water resources, and protect natural areas, including agricultural land. The government has laid out measures to conserve the communities’ social, natural, cultural, and economic wellbeing. They will integrate climate change considerations into all infrastructure plans.
With these solutions in place, the GGH will remain a great place to live and work. Its people-first communities and excellent economy are set to offer the sustainable infrastructure and affordable housing solutions that inhabitants need to live comfortably. As a result, the government expects the region to ‘mature into an economic powerhouse of global significance’ that ‘will function as Canada’s principal international gateway.’
The CUR’s Further Recommendations
In response to the proposed land needs methodology for A Place to Grow, the CUR addressed a letter to the Ontario Growth Secretariat. The letter asks that the Ministry develops the methodology by:
- Enforcing municipal compliance with policy 1.4.1 of the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS).
The CUR asks that the Ministry enforces municipal compliance with Policy 1.4.1, recommending that this is the biggest single action the Province can take to make Ontario houses more affordable. The CUR suggests that the methodology should include short- and long-term directions on monitoring municipal resident land use supply to ensure municipalities remain compliant with the policy. The centre also asks that the Ministry provides a reporting format for municipalities to complete at least once a year.
- Requiring municipalities to disaggregate housing needs by housing type.
Secondly, the CUR asks the Ministry to amend the methodology so that it requires municipalities to break down housing requirements by unit types. This way, Ontario can benefit from ready-to-go sites in built-up and greenfield areas, offering a blend of housing options to meet future demand. As a result, the methodology should replace the word ‘can’ with ‘must’ when referring to splitting housing requirements by unit type by municipalities.
The CUR also recommends that the Ministry adds a ‘missing middle’ housing category to the two housing types addressed in the latest Hemson forecasts. This category offers ground-related alternatives to single-detached houses and is often chosen over units in high-rise apartments. Considering housing and land requirements by unit type is essential when it comes to calculating the volume of housing required in designated areas. For example, while apartments are ideal for built-up areas, lower-density housing forms are better-suited to greenfield areas.
Stay up To Date with Greater Golden Horseshoe Developments
As the CUR and government continue to collaborate over the Greater Golden Horseshoe developments, Storey Collective will be keeping a close eye on changes to keep prospective house buyers informed. If you’re interested in moving to the GGH, get in touch with our real estate agents for a free consultation.