A former Tory leader on Friday reiterated his party's call for more home construction as the key solution to the housing affordability crisis.
Many people from Gananoque, Brockville and Kemptville probably thought they could afford a house once they grew up, in the neighbourhood they grew up in if they played by the rules, got a good job and got their education "but that is increasingly becoming out of reach for families whether they live in small towns, mid-size cities or the big city," said Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association.
Hudak, also a former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, spoke at the 13th annual Leeds Grenville Economic Development Summit Friday morning.
Housing prices across Ontario, including in Leeds and Grenville, are rising for many reasons. Millennials are growing up and are ready to buy, and Mom and Dad are ready for them to get out of their house, and many people have lower mortgage rates, said Hudak.
As many people have had to turn to working from home, it has given more people the opportunity to explore housing options outside the core urban areas, "which is also putting pressure on the housing prices in Leeds Grenville," he added.
While housing prices have been increasing over the years for Ontario homes, the COVID-19 pandemic has made them go through the roof, despite a small dip in prices in March through June 2020, said Hudak.
Dana Pearce, president-elect of the Rideau-St. Lawrence Real Estate Board, said that in the past it was typical for people who didn't have as much money in their pockets to move out to the more rural areas, but now prices are relatively the same between cities like Brockville.
The biggest issue, however, is supply.
Hudak shared a presentation that said the housing supply across Ontario is at an all-time low compared to past years, dating back to the late 1990s.
"How do we actually get back on track and reverse this decline?" asked Hudak, adding that we start with increasing the housing supply.
"It really comes to working with our partners in provincial, municipal and federal government on creating more supply in the marketplace."
Most the housing decisions are made at a provincial and municipal level but the recent election had a focus on housing supply, and it could be helped by the federal government building, preserving or repairing 1.4 million homes, converting empty office space into housing, supporting first-time home buyers and creating and adjusting funding, said Hudak.
He expects that housing will be a major issue of concern for the upcoming municipal and provincial elections as well.
"The Ontario government is the most pro-housing government we have seen in a generation,” said Hudak, adding that they have reduced red tape and streamlined the approval process, and passed the More Homes, More Choice Act and others.
In smaller towns and in Leeds and Grenville he thinks that broadband installation, natural gas expansion and a rent-to-own program could help alleviate the problem of housing.
(Jessica Munro is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times