Table of Contents
- Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods Initiative (EHON)
- HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan
- Affordable Housing
- Missing Middle
- Beaches-East York Pilot Project
- Short Term Rentals
- Inclusionary Zoning
- Right-Sizing Housing and Generational Turnover
- Townhouses and Low-Rise Apartments
- Neighbourhood Change and Intensification Bulletin
- Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force
- Vacant Home Tax (VHT)
Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods Initiative (EHON)
Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods (EHON) was established to “facilitate more low-rise housing in residential neighbourhoods to meet the needs of a growing city.” The City is working to expand opportunities for “missing middle” housing forms ranging from duplexes to low-rise walk-up apartments. These housing forms exist in Toronto today but they are limited in where they can be newly built.
Initiatives under the EHON program are detailed in sections below. Information is provided on Laneway Suites, Garden Suites, and Secondary Suites on the Suites Options page.
HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan
The City of Toronto adopted the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan in 2019 as blueprint for action across the full housing spectrum – from homelessness to rental and ownership housing to long-term care for seniors.
The Plan updates and builds on the City’s first housing plan and aligns with other City policies (ie Poverty Reduction Strategy, Resilience Strategy, Transform TO and Seniors Strategy). Targets are set to be achieved over the next 10 years with estimates of the necessary financial investments.
The Vision is stated as “Toronto is a city with a diverse range of housing opportunities. It is a place where families and individuals live in safe, well-maintained and affordable housing with respect and dignity and where people have equal opportunities to succeed.”
How the vision will be achieved:
- Adopt a revised “Toronto Housing Charter – Opportunity for All”
- Enhance partnerships with indigenous community partners
- Prevent homelessness and improve pathways to housing stability
- Provide pathways to support women
- Maintain and increase access to affordable rents
- Meet diverse housing needs of seniors
- Ensure well-maintained and secure homes for renters
- Support Toronto Community Housing and its residents
- Continue the revitalization of neighbourhoods
- Create new rental housing responsive to residents’ needs
- Help people buy, stay in and improve their homes
- Improve accountability and transparency in delivery of housing services to residents
- Enhance partnerships and intergovernmental strategy
Please see the City of Toronto – Housing TO 2020-2030 Action Plan
A number of initiatives are underway at the City of Toronto in efforts to deal with the affordable housing dilemma in Toronto. The City of Toronto Affordable Housing Partners provides links to the following initiatives:
- HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan
- Modular Housing Initiative
- Open Door Affordable Housing Program
- Laneway Suites Programs
- Open Requests for Proposals for affordable housing developments and Toronto Community Housing
- New Affordable Housing Developments
- Affordable Ownership Housing Providers
- Housing Now approach to use City-owned lands to build affordable housing
Creating and maintaining affordable housing is one of the City’s key priorities. The Affordable Housing Office was established in 2005 and in 2019 it transitioned into the Housing Secretariat. The Secretariat delivers funding and incentives to create and maintain safe, affordable, rental and ownership housing for lower-income residents.
Please see the City of Toronto Housing Secretariat.
The Official Plan and Zoning By-law work together to define/control land use and development. The Official Plan land use designations define where housing can be build, where stores, offices and industry can locate and where a mix of uses is allowed. The Zoning By-law then implements policies of the Official Plan, establishing regulations for how land can be used, what types of buildings and structures can be built, as well as standards related to the location of buildings and structures, lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements, building heights, and setbacks from property lines. The following graphic shows how much of the City of Toronto’s Area is in each Official Plan land use designation and Zoning By-law zone category. One square represents one percent of the City of Toronto’s area.
For more information, see Profile: Official Land Use Designations & Zoning By-Law Zone Categories on the Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods page. As shown on that page, 47.1% of Toronto’s total area is zoned residential. The concern is that 31.3% of those areas are zoned to only permit detached houses.
Please see the City of Toronto Expanding Housing Options.
Beaches-East York Pilot Project
Beaches East York was chosen as the location of a new housing pilot project aimed at expanding affordable housing options or the “missing middle” in Toronto. This Pilot Project will assess the feasibility of building missing middle, ranging from duplexes to low-rise walk-up apartments, on selected City-owned sites that are designated Neighbourhoods in the City’s Official Plan.
On Jan 19, 2021 the Planning and Housing Committee, as part of the Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods endorsed the contents of the Staff Report (Jan 5, 2021) and instructed Planning to work with Real Estate Services, the Housing Secretariat, in consultation with the local Councillor, to facilitate the design and construction of demonstration projects, as part of the Beaches-East York Pilot Project.
Short Term Rentals
A short-term rental is all or part of a dwelling unit rented out for less than 28 consecutive days in exchange for payment. This includes bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) but excludes hotels and motels.
A short-term rental company is “any company facilitating or brokering short-term rental reservations online and receiving payment for this services (for example, Airbnb and Booking.com). All short-term rental companies are required to obtain a licence to operate in the City of Toronto.”
Short term rental operators are “people renting their homes or rooms on a short-term basis, for a period of less than 28 consecutive days. These operators need to register with the City and are required to collect a remit a four per cent (4) Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) on all rentals.”
The City of Toronto has been consulting with stakeholders on a draft Official Plan amendment for Inclusionary Zoning Policy that would require a certain percentage of affordable housing units in new residential developments to create mixed-income housing.
On June 6, 2019, the Province of Ontario passed Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act, which limits the City’s use of inclusionary zoning to Protected Major Transit Station Areas – areas that are generally within 500 to 800m of subway, light rail or bus stations on dedicated rights-of-way. Proponents of Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) want to see this restriction lifted.
Inclusionary zoning typically creates housing for households earning too much to be eligible for social housing but not enough to be able to afford market rents or prices. In the City of Toronto, these “low-to-moderate-income households” earn approximately $35,000 to $88,500 per year, depending on household size. Of the over 230,000 units built or approved in the last five years, only about 2% (~4600 units) were affordable, with rents at or below average market rents for the City. The City recently proposed that affordable housing units rates of 5-10% in new condos and 3-5% in new rental developments, with more than 100-140 units. Affordable housing advocates are recommending that 20-30% of all new residential developments with 60 or more units be set aside for permanently affordable rental housing.
The Planning and Housing Committee considered an Inclusionary Zoning Draft Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment on Sept. 22, 2020. The draft documents were endorsed as the basis for public consultation; staff were directed to conduct further analysis, consultations and meet with key stakeholders, including options to increase the percentage of housing that would be secured as affordable rental or ownership housing with options to achieve a range of 10-30% of residential gross floor area for new condominium developments and 5-20% for new purpose-built rental developments; and it was requested that a Final Recommendation Report be prepared for consideration at a statutory public meeting to be held by the PHC in the first half of 2021.
A Virtual Open House was held on October 21, 2021 with a presentation from City Planning staff, providing an opportunity to learn about the updated background analysis, proposed policies and draft implementation guidelines.
The Planning and Housing Committee considered a staff report on Inclusionary Zoning on October 28, 2021. The Committee also considered at this meeting proposed changes to definitions for Affordable Housing. The changes incorporate an income-based approach and respond to Action 52 of the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan.
Sixteen Recommendations were adopted by the Committee including adoption of the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendments. The Report for Action along with 10 attachments is available via the Agenda link (below). The Presentation provides a good summary. This item is now on the Agenda to be considered at the City Council meeting on Nov 9, 2021.
FoNTRA submitted a letter expressing strong support stating “this policy is expected to create thousands of affordable units over the next few years. It has been long in gestation, and has incorporated experience from other jurisdictions. The City is making a bold step and needs to be supported by the federal and provincial governments with increased subsidies for assisted and supportive housing in order to make access to housing more equitable.”
The sixteen Recommendations adopted by the Planning and Housing Committee with Amendments on October 28, 2021 were reviewed at the City Council meeting on November 9, 2021. Revised Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments (ZBA) were also presented due to modifications for: providing clarity around the transition and exemption provisions in the ZBA and the status of Map 37 as a statutory Official Plan map as well as changes required based on new comments received from Ministry staff clarifying the implementation in Protected Major Transit Station Areas; the approach for the procedure for ensuring the units remain affordable, net proceeds for the sale of an affordable unit, and transition.
The Supplementary Report of November 8, 2021 recommended technical revisions to the proposed Official Plan Amendments and Zoning By-law Amendments in response to new comments received from Ministry of Municipal Affair and Housing staff on November 5, 2021. These revisions provided clarity around application of inclusionary zoning, the approach to the procedure for ensuring units remain affordable during the 99 year period and requirements for sharing of net proceeds. Revisions are documented for Applicability, Approach to Monitoring Procedure and Net Proceeds.
A number of motions were put forward for deletion/replacement, revision and/or additions. The Agenda provides the final version of the twenty-three Recommendations. City Council adopted this item on November 9, 2021 with amendments.
Right-Sizing Housing and Generational Turnover
Right-sizing is a household having exactly the number of bedrooms required to suitably house that household based on its size and composition, including the age, sex and relationship of its members. There can be situations where households are underhoused (fewer bedrooms than required) or overhoused (more bedrooms than required).
Housing turnover occurs when a household vacates its dwelling and a new household moves in. Downsizing is a form of turnover.
Right-Sizing Housing and Generational Turnover provides information on the Right-Sizing Housing and Generational Turnover Bulletin which examines housing, suitability, right-sizing, turnover and downsizing in Toronto.
A Staff Report and the Bulletin were reviewed at the June 21, 2021 meeting of the Planning and Housing Committee. Requests were made of Staff to report back on existing policies and policy options for overcrowding/underhousing situations as well as jurisdictional reviews to understand how issues of overcrowding in rental housing are being addressed, including with equity-seeking populations.
See City of Toronto Planning Research and Analytics, Right-Sizing Housing and Generational Turnover
Townhouses and Low-Rise Apartments
On March 26, 2018, City Council adopted the Townhouse and Low-Rise Apartment Guidelines. The Guidelines are intended to help implement the policies in the Official Plan by achieving the appropriate design for current and new townhouse and low-rise apartment development applications. The Townhouse and Low-Rise Apartment Guidelines replace the Infill Townhouse Guidelines (2003).The Guidelines apply to the design, review, and approval of new low-rise, multi-unit building developments that are four storeys or less. The Townhouse and Low-Rise Apartment Guidelines include the following building types: Townhouse (two to four storeys), Stacked Townhouse (three to four storeys), Back-to-Back Townhouse (two to four storeys), Stacked and Back-to-Back Townhouse (three to four storeys), Low-Rise Hybrid Building (three to four storeys) and Low-Rise Apartment Building (three to four storeys).
At the March 26, 2018 City Council meeting, staff were directed to monitor development applications for Townhouse and Low-Rise Apartment building types for at least two years to measure the effectiveness of the Guidelines. The Planning and Housing Committee reviewed the Report for Action on June 11, 2021.
The Monitoring results are presented in three parts:
- How Effective Are the Guidelines
- The Applications: How Many, What Type and Where
- Additional Council Recommendations and Related City Initiatives
Between March 2018 and December 31, 2018, 107 planning applications used the Guidelines as part of the application review process. Monitoring indicates the Guidelines are working well and have been effective in positively influencing design to achieve the Public Realm and Built Form policies of the Official Plan. The monitoring has reinforced the importance of the Guidelines and no revisions to the Guidelines were recommended at this time.
This item was adopted without amendment by the Planning and Housing Committee on June 11, 2021.
Neighbourhood Change and Intensification Bulletin
A Report on the Neighbourhood Change and Intensification Bulletin accompanied by a Presentation and the profile TO Bulletin were presented by the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning at the Planning and Housing Committee on November 25, 2021.
The Neighbourhood Change and Intensification Bulletin examines growth and change within lands designated as Neighbourhoods. The results of this research provide a broad understanding of demographic characteristics across Toronto’s low rise neighbourhoods and have been used in the Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods initiative, an ongoing study exploring new policy approaches that could increase housing diversity in lands designated as Neighbourhoods.
The Bulletin examines Building Permits, Planning applications and Census demographic data across the city’s five low-density Residential zone types.
The Bulletin is part of the research supporting the Lands Needs Assessment, a component of the Municipal Comprehensive Review of the Official Plan, and will be incorporated into the background work currently underway. The Bulletin also provides a resource for the Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods initiative to assess policy options and evaluate potential regulatory changes.
FoNTRA commented in their letter that the number of case studies is quite small and is likely insufficient to be representative of the communities in the massive land area designated in the Official Plan as Neighbourhoods. FoNTRA encouraged Planning to undertake more case studies to support the planning analysis required for the Multiplexes initiative.
Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force
The Ontario government struck this task force in December 2021, and the final Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force Report was delivered to the Minister of Housing at the end of January 2022. The members of the Task Force and their biographies are detailed in Appendix A of the Report.
A goal was set for Ontario to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years to address the supply shortage.
The Report details 55 Recommendations:
- Recommendations 1 and 2 set the goal and update planning policies
- Recommendations 3 to11 address how to increase housing supply “as of right” and make better use of transportation investments
- Recommendation 12 sets provincial standards for urban design and removes/reduces parking requirements
- Recommendations 3 to 25 limit consultations, restore rights of developers to appeal Official Plans and MCRs; legislate timelines for approvals and other changes to allow housing to be built more quickly and affordably
- Recommendations 26 to 31 seek to weed out or prevent appeals and encourage the Tribunal to prioritize cases that would increase housing supply quickly
- Recommendations 32 to 48 deal with issues that may take more time to resolve or may not directly increase supply
- Recommendations 49 to 50 call for an “Ontario Housing Delivery Fund” to be created and encouragement of federal government match-funding and suggestions on how to reward municipalities that support change and reduce funding to municipalities that do not
- Recommendations 50 to 55 set out ways of ensuring real and concrete progress on providing more homes.
Update: April 2022
On February 8, 2022, the Ontario Government published the “Report of the Housing Affordability Task Force” which included 55 recommendations. On March 30, 2022, the Province introduced changes to the Planning Act, The City of Toronto Act and other statutes to implement some of the recommendations in the Task Force Report. Bill 109 was posted on the Provincial ERO website for comments up until April 29, 2022. However, although the commenting timeframe was yet to close, on April 14, 2022 the Province gave third reading and Royal Assent to the Bill, bringing the bill into effect.
City of Toronto Planning, City Legal, Corporate Financial Strategy and Policy and Parks, Forestry and Recreation prepared a “Review of Bill 109, the More Homes for Everyone Act, 2022” and a supporting Attachment, covering the details, impacts and cost of the legislation amendments. The Report was reviewed on April 27, 2022, by the Planning and Housing Committee.
As per the Housing Affordability Task Force (HATF) report, the legislation is based “on the premise that reduced housing affordability is a function primarily of an increase in population and the lack of housing supply. The legislation is targeted at reducing “red tape”, accelerating the development application review timelines and streamlining the approvals process.
City Staff, while supporting the general intention of streamlining processes, feel that the Bill “fails to recognize that the planning approval process is a fundamentally iterative process whereby community, applicants and city divisions, external agencies and provincial Ministries collaborate in partnership to find solutions and work to avoid adjudicated outcomes.” Staff expressed concerns about the implications and subsequent consequences of many of the amendments.
Motions were approved by City Council for the following:
- Express concern to the Province that the Bill 109 received Royal Assent before the commenting period had expired.
- Request the Province to consult with the City prior to issuing any additional draft regulations associated with Bill 109.
- Express concern to the Province on the removal of the transition clause associated with the Ministerial review of Official Plans and Amendments.
- Express concern to the Province that the referral of official plan amendments subject to Ministerial approval are no longer sheltered from protracted hearings at the OLT.
- Express concern to the Province about the inclusion of application fee refunds.
- Request the Province to explore other avenues to help municipalities expedite approvals.
- Express general support for the policies for the Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator (CIHA) tool provided that it, and the Minister’s Zoning Order powers, are utilized prudently.
- Request the Province to consult on any regulations authorizing owners/applicants to stipulate the surety bonds or other instruments to be used to secure an obligation to the municipality.
- Reiterate its request to the Province to introduce the ability to register Community Benefits Charge in-kind contribution agreements against the land to which it applies.
Vacant Home Tax (VHT)
Back in December, 2020, Toronto City Council approved an implementation plan to introduce a new tax on vacant Toronto homes starting in 2022. The goal was not to increase revenue, but to increase the housing supply, by encouraging homeowners to sell or rent their unoccupied home. If they choose to continue to keep the home vacant (or boarded up), a tax would is levied. This revenue would then be used to fund affordable housing projects.
Vancouver implemented the “empty homes tax” charge in 2018 and credits that tax for putting more units back on the rental market. The charge is 1.25% of the assessed value of a property that is neither a principal residence nor rented out for at least six months of the year. That’s on top of the property tax the owner already pays.
At its meeting of July 14-16, 2021, City Council considered a draft report which provided recommended tax program design elements to be part of a future tax by-law. The direction was to undertake public consultation and receive written feedback and advice from stakeholders and to report back during Q4 of 2021 on any modifications to a finalized tax design and an enabling tax by-law for Council consideration for implementation on January 1, 2022.
On December 7, 2021, the Executive Committee reviewed the Report on the Final Tax Design and Steps to Implement a Vacant Home Tax in Toronto. Attachment 1 details the Final Recommended Tax Design Features for a Vacant Home Tax (VHT). The amount of the annual VHT payable for a taxation year will be calculated as 1 percent of the assessed value (Current Value Assessment, or CVA) of the property, on the most recently returned assessment roll.
The number of vacant homes in Toronto will not be known until after full implementation of the tax declaration and audit process planned for early 2023. However, using metrics from Vancouver, if 1 percent of Toronto’s housing stock is vacant and subject to the tax, at a 1 percent tax rate on an average Toronto CVA, the vacant home tax could yield $55 to $66 million in (gross) tax revenue per year. One-time start-up costs of $11 million would be incurred in 2021 and 2022 to set up the necessary administrative structures and systems and programming to collect the tax as well as initial communications efforts. Operating costs are estimated at $3.1 million per year.
City Council adopted this item with amendments on December 15, 2021. The City Solicitor will introduce the necessary Bill to give effect to the Vacant Home Tax at the next City Council meeting in January, 2022, and to amend the City of Toronto Municipal Code to add the Vacant Home Tax by-law as Chapter 778.