Event Summary- Solving the Housing Crisis:
Expert Panelists Discuss Recommendations to Combat the Affordability Crisis
Hosted by the Barrie & District Association of REALTORS® (BDAR) in partnership with STOREYS, the Solving the Housing Crisis panel event was organized to discuss the housing affordability crisis currently happening in Ontario ahead of the June 2022 Ontario provincial elections. It was designed to help REALTOR® members and key stakeholders understand the factors contributing to unaffordability, what’s currently being done, and what still needs to be changed to attain affordable housing. The virtual panel event focused on information suggested in the Housing Affordability Task Force Report, released earlier this year, where expert panelists were asked a series of questions representing local, regional, provincial, and national perspectives on the issue to provide a range of viewpoints and information from each level of involvement.
The audience for the event included BDAR Members, housing stakeholders, and local dignitaries.
Managing Editor, STOREYS
Penelope has over a decade of experience covering real estate, mortgage, and personal
finance topics. Her commentary on the housing market is frequently featured in both national and local media outlets including BNN Bloomberg, CBC, The Toronto Star, National Post, and The Globe and Mail.
Mayor, City of Orillia
Mayor Clarke has taken his own actions within the City of Orillia to combat the housing crisis and has developed a local action plan to bring more jobs and housing to the downtown core.
Director of Planning/Chief Planner, County of Simcoe
The County of Simcoe is responsible for a range of municipal services including social housing. Its mission is to provide affordable, sustainable service, and infrastructure through leadership.
President, Ontario Home Builder's Association (OHBA)
Bob is the President of the Ontario's Home Builders Association. He has a passion for
the home building and renovation industry. Prior to his appointment in 2019, Bob
recently served as the 2018/2019 Simcoe County Home Builders’ Association’s (SCHBA) President and is Co-Founder of FarSight Homes.
Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA)
Tim has a passionate stance toward championing the dream of homeownership and
has taken on a huge role through OREA to help remove the red tape from the affordability crisis.
Senior Director, Policy and Innovation, Smart Prosperity Institute
Mike is an economist that has worked with politicians and policymakers in many different countries to craft more effective public policy. From 2013 to 2015, Mike served as an economic advisor to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
Addressed to Steve Clarke - Like many small-to-medium-sized markets, housing prices skyrocketed in Orillia over the course of the pandemic and continue to reach new highs. What implications does that have for both local buyers, as well as those migrating to the area:
• Lack of inventory has caused prices to skyrocket during and post-pandemic.
Addressed to Steve Clarke - One of the recommendations made is that all new residential development and redevelopment in medium-and-high-density land use designations shall provide 15 percent of those housing units as affordable. How will this help those trying to become a homeowner and lower-income families, and individuals?
• Steve has been doing a lot of great work within the city of Orillia with a few new developments
• The goal in Orillia is for 10% of new builds to be affordable housing units.
• The market has completely shut out the average individual from rent or sale.
Addressed to Nathan Westendorp - many municipalities in Simcoe County have a ton of undeveloped land, how can regional and local officials plan to make use of this land for affordable housing units?
• We need to understand what’s missing for affordable housing to be attainable such as what types of units a community has, what developments are underway, and what’s holding them back.
• This isn’t an easy fix or one person can fix all problem. We need to continue the partnership between local, regional, and provincial stakeholders.
• Lastly, municipal plans, by-laws, and processes need to be clear. This allows the community to know what to expect, and developers what to expect in the planning and zoning process.
Addressed to Nathan Westendorp - Municipalities in Simcoe County do not have the infrastructure needed to support a higher density population, how can regional and local officials work together to develop and implement a model for water, and other infrastructure needed for new developments.
• Need to have a keen understanding of the challenges and resources to address infrastructure needs each partner has.
• Infrastructure is often overlooked. It’s critical and constrained here, and to fix requires working together with partners and stakeholders.
• Look ahead to solutions and what’s needed to make this happen.
Addressed to Bob Schickedanz - How would setting province-wide-zoning standards or prohibitions for minimum lot sizes, maximum building setbacks, and minimum heights for example help the system already in place for land use, planning, and approval?
• Having a province-wide standard would be great, but Bob said that he’s afraid it could get bogged down by what the standard is because it could look different in different towns or situations.
• A more realistic goal would be to have a comprehensive zoning-by law that provides more of a consistent framework.
Addressed to Bob Schickedanz - With the rising cost of construction materials and the local available labor, does the province foresee any logistical challenges to producing 1.5M as outlined in the Budget
• Logistics is a huge problem.
• Industry is near capacity, so we must do a better job at attracting younger people to the trades, the immigration system, and attract their talent.
• Collaborating in a meaningful way and seeing how we can solve these issues.
• Standardizing the zoning or consistent framework would help community members and developers.
• Need to have a referee to stop those trying to purposely halt construction.
Addressed to Tim Hudak - It was recommended that the Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing lead an all-of-government committee, including key provincial ministries, and agencies, that meets weekly to ensure the remaining recommendations are implemented. How important is it that the provincial government ensures that the recommendations made in the Housing Affordability Report have and will continue to receive sustained attention and that results be monitored?
• It’s critical because we need a keeper of the flame.
• 1.5M homes is an aggressive target but we have a target, and we can see alignment amongst parties.
• If we don’t have anyone keeping the recommendation, they will just fall to the wayside.
Addressed to Tim Hudak - How will limiting public involvement in housing developments help the approval process move quicker and more developments be approved overall?
• The public should absolutely have a say, but we need to ensure that the consultation process is not being abused because we have heard of cases of the consultation being approved, and people will throw outdated articles to stop developments.
• They would have more and more consultations, and committee meetings, and by the time the delay was over materials increased thus many homes not being able to be built or average families not being able to afford them.
Addressed to Mike Moffatt, Canada has one of the lowest housing supplies out of all the G7 countries, how will building more homes in cities where people work help the Canadian economy, workforce, and affordability?
• Workforce mobility is a barrier to the crisis.
• Lack of mobility.
• We need to attract international talent to our workforce, and we can’t do that because housing is high.
• Causes provinces to build a lot more infrastructure because people must live further away from work to afford housing.
• If people could live closer to where they worked the cost of infrastructure would, in turn, go down.
• We need to explain to the community what density will bring.
On behalf of the Barrie and District Association of REALTORS® and STOREYS, we would like to thank our panelists for participating in the event and enlightening everyone about the factors contributing to unaffordability, what’s currently being done, and what still needs to be changed to attain affordable housing. Thank you to Penelope for moderating the event and ensuring things ran smoothly, and to our attendees for joining us to show support and learn about this important issue.
Watch the recording of the event online: https://youtu.be/w2we0KCTyVM
Listen to the event on BDAR’s More Than Real Estate Podcast, available on all major podcast platforms: https://anchor.fm/bdar