Toronto’s mayor said the city needs more affordable housing than “you could imagine” and property taxpayers can’t carry the burden alone.
John Tory’s comments come as he prepares to host a housing summit with Canada’s big city mayors starting this Friday. Tory said the group of mayors are looking for a partnership between the federal government and the provinces.
“Property taxpayers in cities cannot afford to bear this burden alone. It is totally impractical,” Tory said Wednesday in an interview on BNN.
“That’s why we need the other levels of government with their other sources of income – corporate taxes, income taxes, sales taxes – to help cities and be partners with cities.”
When asked to put a number on the amount of affordable housing that Toronto needs, Tory said: “More than you could imagine in terms of the amount of money that it would cost.”
“So I guess what I’m saying is, let’s start somewhere with a significant dent in what is a very big problem in Canada’s big cities.”
Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has pledged $20 billion over 10 years for social infrastructure. While that includes affordable housing, child cares spaces and community centres are also on the list.
The aim of the summit, Tory said, is to have Ottawa and the provinces say “we’re going to, together, do more than we’re doing now to encourage largely the private sector and the non-profit sector to build more of this affordable housing.”
While the B.C. government has said its new 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers for Metro Vancouver will help fund affordable housing initiatives, Tory played down the need for such a levy in Toronto.
“We sure know there’s a challenge of affordability. What measures are required?” Tory said.
“The first ones that occurred to me are not to impose a tax of any particular kind… it is to increase the supply of affordable housing, and that’s where we need this partnership.”