Jaxson Kahn, 23, encountered the nightmare that is Toronto’s rental market when he moved to the city to join a small tech startup. He ended up sharing a basement apartment almost an hour away from work.
Fueled by a booming tech industry, Toronto’s economy has produced an all-too-familiar problem: soaring housing prices beyond the reach of the middle class. That’s also plagued Vancouver where prices soared even higher than Toronto.
Now, Canada is embarking on an ambitious plan to create more moderately-priced rental units. With land handouts and tax incentives provided by the city and provinces, one group hopes to bring 50,000 affordable apartments to Toronto and Vancouver in just 10 years.
The project, to cost at least $10 billion, is at a scale never before seen in Canada, both in its size and speed. And it’s raising questions about whether or not the country will be able to address its affordability problem before it’s too late.
At stake, proponents say, is the continued growth of Canada’s biggest cities. Last year, Toronto ranked first in UBS Group AG’s annual list of major cities worldwide with the greatest risks of a housing bust. That has made even property developers who have reaped big profits fretful that critical workers will be priced out of housing.