Mayor Tory desperately seeking solution to dire housing situation

Toronto's mayor won't call it an emergency, yet, but describes the city's housing market as "deeply troubling."

The average price of a detached house in the GTA has gone through the roof with a 33 per cent spike last month compared to the same time last year. The average cost for a detached home is $1.56 million.

"I am not in a position to stand here today and say that even after meeting a whole plethora of experts last week, that I have identified, with their help, one thing that we could do to address this very serious situation," Mayor Tory admits. "When I had some of the housing experts in the room, they indicated, including people from the industry, that the regulatory hand was quite weak in the the province of Ontario under provincial legislation. I think that calls for a review."

Premier Kathleen Wynne has promised to address the housing prices in the provincial budget. Mayor Tory is on the edge of his seat waiting to see what that is. "The first key to this is to work with the other two governments, both of them, including the province, to step forward to increase the supply of affordable rental and ownership housing. There are programs that can produce affordable ownership housing and the best thing we can do is to increase supply. But, if the supply is going to be in the market in a reasonable period of time that means we have to have the funding commitments, which we have the beginnings of from the federal government, and get the same from the province and move forward to actually get things built."

Mayor Tory says the city is still considering a vacant property tax option. According to 2016 census data, there are roughly 65,000 properties sitting empty in the city. "The results of the preliminary investigation into the jurisdictional question indicates we would have to get regulatory permission from the province of Ontario. No decision has been taken to move forward with such a tax and therefore no decision has been taken to ask for that permission. I can tell you we are fairly confident we would have to ask for that permission. I would hope it would be given if it's something the city of Toronto thought was going to increase the supply of housing and get housing units that are presently back on the market for people to live in, as they should be."