Creative Strategy to Fight Extreme Housing Costs in Toronto, Vancouver

By Carrie Gilkison, Epoch Times

A $10 billion project to build affordable housing in Toronto and Vancouver is in the works.

In the last few years Canadians have been watching real estate in and around these cities rocket upward, to the point where home ownership, and even rental costs become out of reach to the average citizen.

“The crux of the plan is recognizing an incredible problem,” said Jennifer Keesmaat, CEO of Creative Housing Society and former chief city planner in Toronto, in an interview with the CBC. “Governments want to help. What do governments have? Land.”

The way the plan works is based on an exchange with the government. The government provides land and in return the creative housing society provides affordable housing that stays affordable, forever.

Keesmaat says there is a lot of land in Toronto owned by the city and the province. The Not-For-Profit is looking closely at transit stations, community centres, and similar sites, where they see great potential.

“There are lots of those types of opportunities that can allow us to build very urban housing,” she said, mentioning that there is a link between affordability and how people move around the city.

The question is if this plan will have a detrimental effect on existing communities.

“There are many parts of the city where we can add affordable rental without overwhelming the [housing] mix,” Keesmaat said.

“If we’re truly committed to creating complete communities, we need to add in the affordable piece. That’s the piece that’s missing.”

Keesmaat says Creating Housing Society has created standing commitments with financial institutions across the country. The next step is working with the government to find the land and to build affordable housing on that land in return.