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Three critical actions urged to boost high-rise residential construction

June 7, 2023  By Don Horne

The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) is proposing that Toronto mayoral candidates immediately embrace a series of three critical actions that could be taken to speed up residential construction and boost the supply of housing in the city.

“All six leading mayoral candidates have indicated they support taking steps to quickly build much-needed housing and increase affordability in Toronto,” says RESCON president Richard Lyall. “We are proposing remedies that, if implemented expeditiously, would pave the way for more residential construction throughout the city and support efforts by builders to increase housing supply.”

In light of the pressing housing affordability and supply crisis, RESCON recently convened a Special Housing Action Committee to come up with proposals for consideration by Toronto mayoral candidates.

Specifically, RESCON is proposing that:

  • As-of-right zoning be allowed along arterial roadways: Present bylaws allow three storeys on arterial roadways. To build higher, a builder must get a zoning bylaw amendment which takes, on average, 34 months per application. Every building across the same arterial roadway must obtain an amendment. RESCON proposes that the city amend its three-storey limit to eight storeys on minor arterials and to 15 storeys on major arterials.
  • More above-grade parking be permitted for new developments: Pushing developers to build below-grade parking as opposed to above-grade is not conducive to reducing GHG emissions as digging down has a greater impact on the environment. Above-grade parking is less complex and time-consuming. The change would speed up construction of high-rise housing projects.
  • Amendments be made to tall building guidelines regarding floor plates: Current guidelines limit building floor plates to 750m²/8,000 ft² which hampers optimization of new construction. There is no technical reason for the guidelines. RESCON is proposing that the restrictive limit be removed to allow for larger apartment units.

“These three changes alone would speed up residential construction and lead to the creation of more housing units in the City of Toronto,” adds Lyall. “With immigration rising and another 700,000 people expected to move to the city by 2051, the need for housing is dire. We are already in a crisis, so it is critical that our political leaders take quick action to allow builders to do what they do best – and that is build housing.”

Click here to view RESCON’s three-point plan.

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