By Jessica Smith Cross and Allison Jones
The average price of detached houses in the Greater Toronto Area rose to $1.21 million last month, up 33.4 per cent from a year ago.
Skyrocketing demand and rising cost of housing is the “unwanted consequence” of a growing economy, but the province’s new measures will make the process of finding a place to live a little easier, a little less frantic and a lot fairer, Wynne said.
“When young people can’t afford their own apartment or can’t imagine ever owning their own home, we know we have a problem,” she said. “And when the rising cost of housing is making more and more people insecure about their future, and about their quality of life in Ontario, we know we have to act.”
VIDEO: Province will allow Toronto to impose tax on vacant homes
The province will also expand rent control, which currently only applies to units built before November 1991, after tenants in newer units complained of dramatic spikes in rent. New rules would see all private rental units fall under annual rent increase guidelines. Those have averaged two per cent in the last 10 years and this year it is 1.5 per cent.
Toronto Mayor John Tory has been calling for a tax on vacant homes, and Wynne says Ontario will give Toronto and other interested municipalities the power to impose such a tax to encourage owners to sell or rent such spaces.
The provincial Liberal government’s housing plan contains 16 measures in total. It also includes rebating a portion of development charges to encourage rental construction under a five-year, $125-million program.
Rules for real estate agents will also be reviewed, in particular practices such as double ending, where the agent represents both the buyer and the seller.
Ontario will also establish a program to identify provincially owned surplus lands for affordable and rental housing, with an eye to using a few specific sites such as the West Don Lands in Toronto for pilot projects.
VIDEO: Charles Sousa bristles at notion province has done nothing about housing prices