The rise of the ‘YIMBY’ movement is becoming increasingly prominent as more millennials are making their voice heard. In contrast to the well-known NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) movement, which categorizes those who oppose development projects that take place in their neighbourhood, YIMBY (YES In My Backyard) supports those development projects. In the eyes of a YIMBY, new development projects such as low-income housing, hospitals, and food shelters are welcomed and encouraged. Especially in a city like Toronto, which is increasingly facing housing shortages and sky rocketing home prices, many residents not only want new housing developments, they want it in their backyard.
Headed by Generation Y who have been largely shut out of the housing market, YIMBYers embrace a collective truth: the laws of supply and demand. Toronto’s population is projected to grow from 2.88 million to 3.89 million by 2041, an increase of 35.1%. Pair the surging demand with the lack of housing supply, which has resulted in steep housing prices, (average house price in 2017 up 12.7% annually to C$822,681) it is understandable that those left out of the housing market are less concerned with what neighbourhood their future residence is in, and more concerned about being able to finally own their own home.
Rent in Toronto is also on the rise and it is becoming increasingly difficult for low-to-medium income individuals to live in high-opportunity cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, New York, or San Francisco. To correct this supply and demand imbalance, the idea of new housing solutions being built at an affordable price point for new entrants seems logical. Those left out of the ownership market – by climbing prices and new mortgage rules that limit buying power – have become strong advocates for these new housing developments to accommodate newcomers and the existing population. YIMBYs are about supporting that development by participating in city/neighbourhood meetings and being vocal within their communities.
Unfortunately for YIMBY’s, the approval process for new developments is also a concern. Currently, receiving regulatory and municipal approval for new developments can be a big challenge, especially in Toronto. According to data collected from City Hall by CityNews in April 2017, over 270,000 units or 3,200 towers were being held up in the approval process. These applications were either currently under review or appealed by opposition groups. The opposition groups (largely the NIMBY crowd) are regularly the same people who actively oppose construction in their neighbourhood. In many cases, these are individuals who are worried that a new development will lower their property value, increase their taxes, add noise, block their views, or add crime.
The discussion for the city to open more shelters has been a huge debate in Toronto this winter as well. City council has been asked to review and approve the creation of at least 1,000 new shelter beds, as well as to examine new shelter locations around the city. However, city staff confirmed the 2018 budget only has the capital funding to open 361 new beds this year, replacing 170 retired beds, for a total of only 191 incremental shelter accommodations. This has raised concerns from groups all over Toronto, including Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, who were outraged on Monday during the city council meeting that the number proposed was drastically short of the city’s needs. City staff responded by highlighting the difficulty in acquiring appropriate buildings to open new shelter beds in the current housing climate. The Salvation Army has also noted that many communities do not want shelters in their neighbourhoods, adding an extra layer of difficulty in finding suitable shelter locations.
With so many individuals being left behind by Toronto’s lack of suitable housing accommodations, it shouldn’t be long before the YIMBY’s outnumber the NIMBY’s.