The Need for More Missing Middle Housing

New Developments

The Need for More Missing Middle Housing

Photo Source: Zia Syed via Unsplash

When trying to find a place downtown Toronto we stumble upon a lot of one-to-two bedroom condos in sky-high towers. When looking for a place in the suburbs, we find many single detached family homes. What the city lacks are ground-centered housing types like small apartment blocks, multiplexes, stacked townhomes, and courtyard apartments – also known as “The Missing Middle.”

Now, one-bedroom apartments are desirable when we first move to the city, but as we begin to start families we opt out of the 600-800 square foot one bedroom + den condo and look for something larger and more suitable; something within the mid-size housing range. The only issue is: the tight supply.

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The population across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has grown significantly, and will continue to do so in the coming years; housing supply, on the other hand, has not kept up with the increasing demand. This issue has been one the main culprits behind the unsustainable real estate price growth across the GTA and the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area (GGHA).  While the province understands the need for more housing, it also needs to understand the need for more of the right type of housing in order to accommodate future growth targets. The lack of gentler density housing types across the GTA and GGHA is becoming more evident as new homebuyers are realizing the scarcity of housing options that offer more space than a traditional condo, and with a friendlier price point than a single-detached family home.

Photo Source: Katherine McCormack via Unsplash

While Toronto’s missing middle is a product of how the city grew, public policy has also played a huge role in the limitation of denser housing types. Zoning bylaws, which were first meant to protect Toronto’s residential neighbourhoods, essentially prevent any other type of development built on the land besides detached houses (also referred to as the Yellow Belt, which takes up nearly 60 per cent of lands). Zoning bylaws in Ontario set density permissions in municipalities and determine what type of buildings are allowed to be built, while setting limitation to the size, height, and location of new developments. These bylaws have not been updated in many, many years and contribute to the problem towards the lack of diverse housing options.

Missing middle housing will add more affordable, ground-level community type properties to the city. It’s important for government to address the housing supply problem and create the missing middle housing types to accommodate the incoming population. Brian Tuckey, CEO of BILD, addressees this issue perfectly: “This is not a time for small plans. It’s time to work together and address our housing supply crisis so that today’s new home buyers and future generations have somewhere to live.”

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