Mark Saunders Will Cut Housing Approval Times Down to One Year

“The process has been the bottleneck and I will fix the process.” – Mark Saunders

Toronto - In every segment of the housing ecosystem, the City of Toronto is failing. Torontonians need and deserve access to housing they can afford, but Council's years of inaction and foot-dragging have let everyone down.

“We have Councillors in this race who are pretending that they didn’t have a seat at the table, but the facts speak for themselves," said Saunders. "At the current rate of new affordable home starts, it will take another 45 years for Council to reach its 10-year goal of 40,000 units. It's clear City Hall is the first big barrier to getting home built quickly; so I pledge to use every tool and option at my disposal, including strong mayor powers, to tackle this issue if we don’t get moving on day one.”

  • Since 2017, Council has approved 19,700 affordable rental units. Only about 8% of those have actually been built. To put that in perspective: the City builds less than 2% a year of what is needed.
  • More than four years ago, Council approved a plan to offer 11 of its own properties for affordable housing development, yet not a single one of these sites is under construction.
  • Last year, only 836 new affordable units were even started.
  • Toronto must build 285,000 units over the next 10 years to keep up with demand.

Council is quick to set housing targets, but they have refused to put in conditions favourable to getting housing built.

Partnerships are critical to success and right now, one of the biggest barriers to getting shovels in the ground is that it can take three to five years for a builder to have their housing project approved by the City. Added to this, there is only capacity in Toronto’s construction sector to build half of what is needed within the next 10 years.

As Mayor, Saunders will take action to speed up the City Hall approvals process and build capacity in the construction sector. Specifically, he will:

  • Cut the time for approving applications to one year, while still ensuring resident voices are heard and respected.
  • Make builders and the City accountable to one another by introducing a system of performance measures to ensure that progress is tracked and measured. Accountability must be a two-way street.
  • Designate one City staff member to navigate an application through the City's process and give staff authority to ensure that the applications are processed by all departments in a timely manner.
  • Remove silos between departments at City Hall, ensuring that they all operate to the same standards and timelines.
  • Digitize processes that are currently paper-based.
  • Work with local unions as well as the federal and provincial governments to encourage more people to join the skilled trades.
  • Call on the federal government to ensure our immigration system is supporting the skilled labour needed now, especially in Toronto’s skilled trades system.

See also: Mark Saunders Shares Plan to Unlock More Rental Housing Projects