Toronto’s Infrastructure Problems Won’t Be Solved By Moratorium on New High Rise Developments
Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam of Ward 27 Toronto-Centre/Rosedale recently proposed a moratorium on new high-rise residential condo developments in the downtown core. Her rationale for doing so? Housing oversupply, gridlock, road safety and disruptions to business owners caused by construction. Wong-Tam believes that implementing a one-year moratorium on new tall building residential re-zoning applications will assuage concerns over the city’s strained infrastructure, which has not been able to keep up with the “intense growth of downtown”.
The first point of contention with Wong-Tam’s reasoning is that there is an oversupply of housing. According to Urbanation, there is only a 6.8 month supply of condo inventory, and there has been a 9% drop from 2015. With Toronto detached home prices surging over $1.3M in October, home buyers are looking to high-rises for more affordable housing. Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis is quoted in the October 2016 Market Watch report as saying “New listings were up slightly in October compared to last year, but not nearly enough to offset the strong sales growth. … Until we experience sustained relief in the supply of listings, the potential for strong annual rates of price growth will persist, especially in the low-rise market segments,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.
She is dead-wrong. There is not an oversupply, and condo developers are furious. They contend that City Council is to blame for the lack of infrastructure, as they have been using development charges to keep property taxes artificially low. By this reasoning, if there were a one year moratorium, not only would the city become more cash strapped and less likely to upgrade infrastructure.
Toronto prices have been steadily increasing, and there are no shortage of buyers looking to move into the city. The already sky-high prices of properties would only increase more with a decrease in supply. A moratorium is not the answer; infrastructure concerns are very real, but where does the onus of responsibility lie?
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