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New land use policies impact housing prices

More intensification, more high-rise condos, more congestion, less housing choice and higher housing prices will likely be the impact of newly-proposed land use policy changes announced by the provincial government last week.

The government is proposing changes to its regional Growth Plan that will increase intensification and the amount of development that must be accommodated within established areas will go from 40 per cent to 60 per cent. For cities like Toronto and Mississauga where all new development already occurs within their built up areas, it will look similar to what’s happening today. But for most municipalities in the GTA it means a lot more development within existing neighbourhoods.

For new development areas or what is known as greenfields, densities will be required to increase from 50 persons and jobs per hectare to 80 people and jobs per hectare.

Since the Growth Plan’s inception in 2006, the home building and land development industry has been meeting the province’s intensification requirements. Today we are building at least as many high-rise homes as low-rise homes.  However, the demand for low-rise family homes has not diminished and unfortunately the price has skyrocketed because of low supply.

Supply of low-rise housing in the GTA, especially for detached single family homes, has reached shockingly low record levels. Monthly research conducted by Altus Group, found that on March 31, across the entire GTA there were only 3,036 low-rise homes available for sale in builders’ remaining inventory. A decade ago, there were 16,757 low-rise homes available for sale in remaining inventory.

Not surprisingly, the difference between supply and demand has led to a dramatic increase in prices. The average price of new ground-related housing in the GTA has more than doubled since the Growth Plan was introduced. With its proposed changes to the Growth Plan and Greenbelt Plans, it’s clear the government of Ontario is not concerned about the price of housing in the GTA.

There is a growing body of research both locally and in the U.S. showing a strong correlation between restrictive land use policy and increasing home prices. We believe the province should take a more measured approach before significantly increasing intensification requirements that will further limit housing choice and increase home prices in the GTA.

What do you think? There is a public consultation process underway and an online feedback form on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs’ website at You can also contact your local MPP and tell them it is the time to pause and take a hard look at the numbers before its too late.


Bryan Tuckey is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and is a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments. He can be found on Twitter (, Facebook ( and BILD’s official online blog (

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