Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis

The GTHA's Unbalanced Housing Stock - Benchmarking Ontario's New LPAT System

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Currently, the mix of housing supply in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is insufficient to meet the future requirements envisioned in the Places to Grow (P2G) Act. More control has been given to municipal governments through the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) to plan Ontario’s communities. Although it is too early to tell exactly what impact the new LPAT system will have on housing supply in the GTHA, if there is a continuation of current building trends, housing supply will continue to be insufficient to meet the future needs of the region and reach the growth targets set out in P2G. The risk of not reaching the growth targets as outlined in P2G represent about 7,200 dwellings per year that will not be built, with an annual average loss of $1.95 billion in GDP that is accrued directly from residential construction activity.

The decision to replace the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) with LPAT through the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017 presents both opportunity and risk to Ontario. The planning and development decisions made today regarding the type of dwellings to build and the productivity of the land will have significant impacts on the ability of municipalities to achieve their growth targets (as stated in P2G), fund infrastructure, and provide a diverse selection of affordable housing options for their residents. The new LPAT process will bring significant changes to the way development applications are handled and it will take time and experience to sort through the new roles and responsibilities of council and the LPAT, as well as the process that follows. Significant uncertainties persist due to:

  • transitioning pressures;
  • generation of material required;
  • untested rules and regulations; and
  • tight timelines for responding to applications and to file at the LPAT.

The considerable changes bring significant uncertainties to the execution of planning and approval processes and come at a time when housing development and planning decisions need to be made to ensure sustainable and prosperous growth in the GTHA. The role of evidence-based analysis in making these critical decisions is of utmost importance considering current housing affordability pressures.

The goal of this study is to contextualize those challenges as they relate to P2G 2041 population targets. The Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario commissioned this analysis to better understand how the new LPAT process will change the development process in Ontario. As such, this analysis could be classified as a benchmarking study with a view to monitor future results.

The full report is available from RCCAO