Toronto’s mayoral byelection is just days away, and the race to replace John Tory is heating up. For those planning to cast their ballot on June 26, here’s where the top candidates stand on housing and their main promises.
A long-time affordable housing advocate, Bailão has pledged to build 285,000 homes by 2031, 20% of which would be purpose-built rentals. She’d also temporarily freeze new development proposals that would demolish existing rental apartment buildings and would like to rezone avenues to allow eight to 10-storey apartment buildings to be constructed without the need for a special permit (as-of-right).
Bradford says he would accelerate the current initiative to build housing on city-owned land, dedicating one-third to affordable housing, and allow offices to be converted to residential housing without a special permit so long as the building isn’t being expanded.
With respect to property taxes, he has promised to keep them at or below the rate of inflation.
Chow’s platform is heavily renter-centric. She has vowed to build 25,000 new rent-controlled homes on city-owned land in the next eight years; allocate $100 million each year to purchase and repair affordable rental apartment buildings and transfer them to non-profits, like land trusts, in an effort to stop renovictions — the process whereby a landlord evicts a tenant by claiming they will complete major renovations; and establish a task force that would develop anti-renoviction bylaws, advocate for real rent control, and review existing policies and programs related to renters.
Chow says she would increase the city’s Vacant Home Tax to 3% from 1%, and use the funds for affordable housing initiatives. Introduced this year, the annual tax is on a home’s Current Value Assessment (CVA). It was created to increase the supply of housing by incentivizing owners to ensure their unit is occupied and not sitting empty.
She would also raise the municipal land transfer tax on homes valued at over $3 million. The revenue generated in doing so would be used to support homelessness and help people stay housed.
The centrepiece of Hunter’s housing plan is a new Toronto Affordable Housing Corp. to unlock public lands for new homes between 10 and 20 storeys high that would deliver nearly 22,700 units in six years. Of these, approximately two-thirds would be rented at a below-market rate.
Hunter supports the construction of Montreal-style lowrise multiplexes of up to four units on all residential lots, and would provide up to $100,000 in forgivable low interest loans for the cost of renovations or additions to create these multiplexes. As well, she backs apartment buildings up to eight storeys high on major streets and near university and college campuses.
While she has not explicitly said she will raise property taxes, Hunter has knocked candidates who claim they will hold property tax increases at or below inflation.
Matlow kicked off his campaign with a vow to increase property taxes by 2% each year as part of a “city works fund” that would keep warming centres open, and help repair sidewalks and roads, among other things.
To curb real estate speculation, he would double the land transfer tax on the purchase of a second residential property for both foreign and domestic buyers.
He would also request a police investigation into money laundering in Toronto’s real estate market and double the number of bylaw officers dedicated to investigating illegal short-term rentals.
Additionally, Matlow has proposed the approval of nine-storey buildings without a special permit on designated avenues around the city, with no terraced step backs or ‘pyramid’ requirements that restrict the number of units; would like to see the addition of three rental units to an existing home so a homeowner can choose to age in place and open up unused space for family members or tenants; and is committed to fast-tracking applications for affordable housing and shifting the property tax classification for new apartment buildings to lower than residential rates to encourage construction.
The former chief of police says he will cut the approval time for residential building construction applications to one year; permit one to two more floors per rental or condominium building — or up to 20 additional units — where appropriate; and take the property tax off affordable housing units in future developments to help spur the rapid development of more homes.
Saunders also says he would introduce a system to track the performance of builders.