Toronto has a supply problem and the national housing company admits that it is not entirely certain why rising prices did not lead to more construction.
New homes replace scrapped copies considerably lower than at the beginning of this decade, completion times for multiple-family projects have doubled and potential buyers have far fewer new homes to choose from than just a few years ago.
The reason, in part, may lie in an ambitious growth plan for the larger area of Toronto, the province of Ontario, forged over a
With new density & # 39; – goals advocating multi-family homes, designated urban growth areas and stricter environmental rules, the 2006 plan attempted to counteract the proliferation in the cities while supporting the further growth of the area as North America's most important economic center.
However, the market did not follow that view.
Free-standing houses are still the most sought-after and their tight supply keeps prices high, even if some ominiums and multi-family projects languish.
Developers say the growth plan, updated in 2017 with higher density targets, created both a supply and demand mismatch and added a layer of new municipal regulations.
"The growth plan has done a major boost," said Matthew Cory, principal at the planning consulting firm Malone Given Parsons.
Ryerson University economist Frank Clayton said that part of the problem was the emphasis of the plan on protecting the environment and heritage sites at the expense of development
"That brought more planning on a planning structure that was already bureaucratically heavy "he said in an interview.
Toronto's problems are of national concern given its role as Canada's most important financial and technological center, which together with the surrounding cities a fifth of the nation's economy.
The city, next to Vancouver, Canada & # 39; s third largest city, is also one of the top North American destinations for international real estate investors and a major attraction for the Chinese capital.
So far, the authorities have tried to cool what they call speculative demand with stricter rules for loans and taxing foreign taxes. buyers. Now they are also starting to look at supply bottlenecks as a driver for prices that have increased by 43 percent in Toronto in the last three years and 63 percent in Vancouver.
"When I'm worried about everything from a long-ago term housing market, it's the supply of properties in Toronto and Vancouver," Evan Siddal, the head of the federal housing agency, the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation, told Reuters .
"We are replacing homes in Toronto at a much lower rate than we were five or six years ago," he said.
The data from the agency, first published by Reuters, show just over 20 new houses built in Toronto for each demolition in 2016, reduced from around 70 to one in 2011. (Image: http: // tmsnrt.rs/2BIeqjM)
Data from real estate research firm Altus Group offer a different perspective: it estimated that potential buyers last year had about 11,000 properties to choose from in the larger area of Toronto, l than half the level of just two years earlier. (Graphic: http://tmsnrt.rs/2BfZo3K)
"LAND BANKING "AND RED TAPE
Siddal said," simpler, more flexible "" approval procedures would help, but developers also contributed the bottlenecks caused by "land banking" – the slowing down of projects in anticipation prices will continue to rise.
In a report this month, however, the agency said it needed more data to fully understand the factors behind the constraints of the supply.  Representatives of the industry say that complex regulation, rather than speculation, causes delays.
Michael Pozzebon, vice president of the low-rise DG Group, said his company used to sell homes once it got approvals because it in the past it knew how long projects would last.
"To sell at that moment, there is a risk that we can not deliver the product on time. So there is a perception that we are sticking to land without developing it, "he said.
A 2016 survey of land use regulations by the Fraser Institute, a government policy think tank, confirms the developers' assessment. Canada's most regulated city, with approval periods almost double that in other centers, and the highest compliance costs, followed by Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal.
Developers now have to meet approximately 200 conditions, from protecting risk types to requirements, to get municipal approval, according to Bryan Tuckey, former head of the Toronto area building and development lobby, compared with about 25 at the beginning of the last decade, he said.
East Gwillimbury, a city just north of Toronto is a good example.
The plan described it as an important growth area, but the municipality is not ste six years behind with the construction of a new sewage treatment plant required for the population of the city to row from 30,000 to 86,000 in 2031. The reason? A municipal financial deficit and delayed environmental impact assessments by the province, says James Young, city councilor and former mayor.
"We stop without the maintenance." It was very frustrating, "Young said.
Developers said that municipal cash is partly because planned apartments take longer than expected, or are not built at all, and that means less development costs that help fund infrastructure.  The municipality acknowledged that it is dependent on development costs to repay infrastructure debt, but said that the fees did not play a role in the delay of the plant.
Despite the preference of the multi-family housing plan, such projects can now three years to complete, double what it was 15 years ago, due to an increase in the required documentation, obsolete municipal zoning plans and the resistance of residents against high-rise projects, according to development lobby BILD
Larry Clay, from Ontario & # 39; s Growth Secretariat at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, criticized that there too many regulations, but said that new guidelines drawn up this year ensure consistent interpretation by municipalities.
DEROGATION OF TORONTO
Housing shortage poses a stern challenge for Toronto and the surrounding cities, with the Ontario government forecast the population of the area will rise to 9.6 million by 2041 from about 6 , 5 million in 2016.
A survey published by the Toronto Region Board of Trade this month showed 42 percent of young professionals considered leaving due to the lack of affordable housing.
Matthieu St-Pierre, a developer of videogames with a 3-1 / 2-year-old son, is an example. With his wife, a marketing assistant at the University of Toronto, he now rents a one-bedroom apartment and plans to move to Quebec City after a fruitless search for a home that is large enough for his family within their budget.
"If you have a child, you need more than 900 square feet of space," said St-Pierre. Ontario's focus on housing with higher density is logical, he said, but developers divorced into too many small units with one bedroom.
Housing plays a central role in the provincial elections in June, where the opposition Progressive Conservatives accuses the ruling Liberal party that contributes to rising house prices with excessive regulation.
According to a study by Ipsos commissioned by the Ontario Real Estate Association last year, 85 percent of residents want political parties to tackle the affordability of housing and 63 percent less regulation.
David Caplan, author of Ontario's "Places to Grow" plan in 2006, served as Minister of Infrastructure, said that the role of provincial and municipal governments in planning was better defined and focused on healthy mix of living options.
But Caplan, now chief operating officer of the Ontario Road Builders Association, recognized 12 years later, the province still tried to find the right b. between growth in suburbs and cities.
"It is still a work in progress."