[URBAN NOTE] “Stop blaming the Greenbelt for Toronto’s housing prices”
Cherise Burda’s op-ed in The Globe and Mail makes sense to me.
A number of critics would have us believe that Ontario’s land-use legislation is the top culprit for rising house prices in the Greater Toronto Area – namely the Greenbelt, which protects farmland, and its sister Growth Plan policy, which directs growth outside the Greenbelt. Proponents of this argument claim that these policies restrict land on which to build ground-related houses, thereby driving up prices.
These policies do influence where and what the region builds, shifting housing starts from predominantly car-dependent low-density subdivisions to more multiunit housing. However, to suggest government policy is the primary cause of high housing prices disregards the many bigger factors and paints an unhelpful picture that we are running out of land and bumping up against the Greenbelt – which has been shown to be false.
Recent analysis by RBC reports four factors accounting for between 85 per cent and 90 per cent of price increases in Toronto since 1999: low borrowing rates; higher incomes; higher percentage of incomes used to pay mortgages; and the bank of mom and dad all contributing to strong buying power.
Canadians buying properties that are not their primary homes now represent a quarter of demand in Toronto real estate, opting for safer investments over unreliable stock markets and zero cash returns, and contributing to higher prices.