What does 1.5 million homes look like?

In 2022, the More Homes Built Faster Act was introduced with the goal of building 1.5 million homes for Ontario in the next decade. Architect, Ossie Airewele, explores a real solution to the challenge.

Across Canada, as with many developed cities across the world, both the demand for housing and low supply are causing house prices to soar. Similarly, a high interest in rental properties combined with vacancy rates at pre-pandemic lows are driving rent prices to historic highs. There is no doubt that we are in a housing crisis! And with that crisis, we cannot underestimate the causal link to growing levels of community displacement, impoverishment and in extreme cases, homelessness. A major first step to reversing this crisis is to increase housing supply.

To bring more homes to Ontario and to build them as fast as possible, the More Homes Built Faster Act (Bill 23) was introduced in late 2022 which sets a target to build 1.5 million homes in the next 10 years. To meet this challenge, we’d need to nearly double the number of homes started in 2022.

What does 1.5 million homes look like?

A single tower would need to be 450 kilometres tall in order to hold 1.5 million dwellings! Alternatively, a low-rise residential area would require an area of 1,071 square kilometres – that's two times the area of Toronto!

If the goal is to get to 1.5 million homes, the vital question now is… how? How can we ensure that we’re building in a way that is equitable and environmentally and socially sustainable? How can we embrace existing communities with a planning approach that is centred around quality of life?

A complete community can be created through the following stages: 1. Understanding the value of the existing neighbourhood 2. Support and build up community identity 3. Engage the community and supplement community needs with new development

“It’s not just about delivering the numbers, it’s about delivering an attractive, equitable and sustainable urban model for the future.”

We aren’t here to just explore these ideas. We want to bring together a collective of skills, expertise, and resources across our industry to address this crisis. It’s not just about delivering the numbers, it’s about delivering an attractive, equitable and sustainable urban model for the future.

The headline figure is that we need to build 187,500 homes a year for the next eight years when we have averaged only around 70,000 homes a year in the last eight. To achieve this dramatic increase will require a fundamental shift in our approach to both design and construction delivery.

We’ve studied the potential and we believe that working within existing transit and planning frameworks, we can create complete communities in an environmentally and socially sustainable way that enhances quality of life.

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