Ontario set to hold housing summit with municipal leaders

The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 19, 2022 5:20AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 19, 2022 5:20AM EST

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford is set to gather virtually with municipal leaders today for a housing summit.

Ford says his goal for the summit is to come up with concrete ways to allow more families to buy a home.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark says housing affordability is a critical priority for the Ontario government, and the summit is an opportunity to co-ordinate efforts with municipalities to help build more homes faster.

Clark says it’s also about enabling the right mix of homes in the right places.

Ford had invited Justin Trudeau to the summit with Ontario’s big city mayors and regional chairs, but the prime minister will not be attending.

The meeting was previously set for mid-December, but was postponed so the provincial and municipal politicians could focus on their response to the Omicron variant.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government has also announced a housing affordability task force to look into measures to boost the supply of rental and ownership housing, reduce red tape, and other options to address housing issues.

A report laying out its recommendations is expected to be published in early 2022.

Figures in Ontario’s fall economic statement show that year-to-date home starts were 16 per cent higher than in the previous year, and rental housing starts were 14 per cent higher.

In the resale market, a frenzy peaked in March 2021 at a record high, before moderating by September. But in that month the average home resale price in Ontario was 31.4 per cent higher than the February 2020 pre-pandemic level.

The government points to low interest rates, higher overall disposable incomes, limited resale listings and shifting home preferences to explain the strong demand.

Telling figures illustrating the province’s heated housing markets can also be found in the land transfer tax revenue. In 2020-21, Ontario got about $3.7 billion in revenue from land transfer taxes. In 2021-22, it’s projected to skyrocket to more than $5 billion.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board said earlier this month that a record 121,712 homes were sold through its MLS system last year, up 28 per cent compared with 2020 and nearly eight per cent above the previous 2016 high of 113,040.

The average selling price set a peak of $1.095 million, up about 18 per cent from the high the prior year of $929,636.

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