Mayor John Tory said a vacant home tax similar to the one recently introduced in Vancouver might need to be explored in Toronto, as 65,000 homes in the city are currently empty.
He made the comments after a round table discussion on affordable housing was held on Thursday morning with a panel of experts ranging from housing advocates to developers.
However he said he is not pushing for a “foreign buyers tax” like in B.C., as he feels the data with regards to foreign investment and it’s affect on the Toronto housing market is not conclusive.
Tory said Toronto’s success and popularity is part of the reason for skyrocketing housing prices, which have gone up by 20 per cent in the past year alone. After the meeting he said changes need to be made to ensure housing does not become a luxury.
“We have to ensure Toronto remains affordable for people from every walk of life” he said, including middle-income home buyers, low-income earners looking to rent or first-time home buyers.
In addition, the panel explored different solutions on how to cool the housing market with help from the government and other housing stakeholders.
Increasing the supply of available housing was at the top of the list, particularly attracting investment dollars to purpose-built rental apartments. Government incentives for such building projects were also discussed.
Tory also cautioned against looking for magic solutions or quick fixes to the problem, reiterating that he is not interested in risky measures that will affect the economy negatively in the long run.
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