Metro Morning

Oakville Mayor says developing greenbelt won't cool housing market

Oakville's Mayor Rob Burton says developing the greenbelt isn't the solution to Toronto's fiery housing market. Instead, he says municipalities need to put pressure on developers to build in pre-approved areas around the GTA.

Mayor Rob Burton says developers are running a 'cartel economy' limiting housing supply

The Greenbelt is a swath of protected wetland, forest and farmland that surround the GTHA, moving north to the Bruce Peninsula. (Friends of the Greenbelt)

Oakville's Mayor Rob Burton says developing the greenbelt isn't the solution to Toronto's fiery housing market.

The greenbelt is the swath of protected wetlands, forests and farmland that runs around the GTHA, extending north to the Bruce Peninsula. It was created by Dalton McGuinty's Liberal Government in 2005 as a way to limit urban sprawl and preserve green space in the Golden Horseshoe.

Mayor of Oakville Rob Burton say it's a myth that developing the greenbelt will solve the GTA's housing woes. (City of Oakville)

Critics of greenbelt polices say protecting land can limit growth in a city. 

"There's been a lot of discussion in the industry generally about the effect of greenbelts ... on constraining land. Many, many land economists have come out and said that that is an issue," said Bryan Tuckey, CEO Of the Building Industry and Land Development Association.

"It's quite clear that the greenbelt does not permit development," he said. "Our industry wants to talk about areas where we can build, where we can build now."

But Burton says the land that is available isn't being used.  

"The line that we're being asked to believe is that they need more serviced land in order to supply this voracious demand for housing," said Burton. "But we've given them serviced land they're sitting on."

Burton says municipalities need to put pressure on developers to build in pre-approved areas around the GTA. 

"In Halton, where I live, we have 6,000 housing units permitted, serviced, and not being built." 

In Toronto, that number jumps to over 100,000, according to Toronto's chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat. When Burton took to Twitter to discuss his frustration with developers, Keesmaat responded saying 118,610 housing units have been approved and not yet built in Toronto.

Developers run 'cartel economy,' Burton says

"Builders control supply in this region," said Keesmat, and Burton agrees. 

"We live in a cartel economy," he said. 

Burton says as long as developers don't feel the pressure to develop within existing boundaries, the greenbelt will remain threatened in Ontario. 

On Wednesday Premier Kathleen Wynne said she has no plans to re-evaluate the greenbelt's boundaries, but Burton says it's not enough. 

"When the real estate industry and the builder developer industry ... continue their unrelenting attack on the greenbelt, yes I think the greenbelt is under threat, even if the Premier says 'I'm not going to give into it.'"

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said that the Ontario Real Estate Association had argued that as the Green Belt is limiting the supply of potential homes. It has not has not in fact argued that point.
    Apr 10, 2017 11:12 AM ET

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