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What Can Toronto’s Next Mayor Really Do About Housing?

On June 26, Toronto is holding a by-election to elect its new mayor. Over half of Torontonians polled recently by Ipsos were unhappy with how city council has addressed the problem of housing affordability, but is it fair to point the finger at city council? Or, do other levels of government bear some responsibility?

On a special hour-long episode of Ready to Real Estate, TRREB Chief Market Analyst, Jason Mercer, hosted a roundtable discussion about what the priorities for Toronto’s next mayor and city council should be when it comes to housing, and the limits to their powers.

Jason was joined by Karen Stintz, CEO of Variety Village and former Toronto city councillor and chair of the TTC; Michael Coteau, Liberal MP for the riding of Don Valley East and former MPP for Don Valley East; Michael Giles, Municipal Affairs Director at RESCON and former chief of staff to city councillors; and Stephen Adler, Senior Director of Public Affairs at NATIONAL Public Relations.

A Snapshot of What Toronto City Council Should Do, Can Do, and Can’t Do

Read on for a snapshot of some of the housing issues Jason’s guests debated.


Most of the tools and levers that actually help create housing don’t rest with the city council. If we’re talking about the cost of labour, if we’re talking about the number of rules and regulations, if we’re talking about the availability of land … our ability to impact development is extremely restricted … this is not a city council issue … it is really not ours alone to solve.


This is a responsibility that is shared by all levels of government and the sector as a whole. … It really, for me, comes down to Toronto not having the tools it needs to get what it wants done. … It’s like me asking you to fix the engine of the car but not giving you tools to do it. … I really think Toronto needs a new deal when it comes to the power it has and the tools necessary to make decisions that impact the city.


One of the main things that we have to do is fix the development process. When it can take 32 months to get a development project approved in the city of Toronto, clearly something is wrong. You look at the city of Tokyo. The population of the greater Tokyo area borders on Canada’s entire population. They’ve had housing equilibrium for the last 10 years and affordable housing. … If you can do that in Tokyo, why can’t we do that in Toronto?


Sitting around the council table, we need councillors to stop playing the NIMBY game. And we need them to look at the entire city: … complete neighbourhoods, that is exactly what we need. We need the gamesmanship to stop around the city council table and to move forward.

Catch the full episode before you cast your vote on June 26.

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