I’m a strong believer in the positive impact of a large population and high density for both Canada and Toronto. A larger population and higher density increases the economic and cultural vitality of both the city and the country. As Toronto enters the 2020s, it faces a serious challenge in terms of growing its population.
The first is at a macro level: as immigration policies in the US and the world change, both Canada and Toronto will have to work much harder to attract and retain immigrants – nothing can be taken for granted. There are also more local concerns. Although Toronto has grown over the past decade, it has also had massive out-migration, which has stunted its potential; hundreds of thousands of people have left in search for affordable housing. Solving this will be a challenge, and one that requires many policy and administrative changes, including:
- Allowing garden suites as of right
- Allowing density transition zones along arterials
- Upzoning the yellowbelt (i.e. removing RD as a zoning type from the city)
- Simplifying planning/approvals for new multi-unit buildings and SFH conversion to multi-unit buildings
- Building dramatically more purpose-built rentals
- Building and providing more affordable housing
Given the scale of the challenge, it’s unclear if Council and the province can rise to the challenge (and initial signs are not promising). One can only hope.