“Toronto is currently at the edge of two major crises that are threatening the future development and prosperity of the city. The first is the well-known shortage of housing, but the second crisis, which is not getting as much attention, is the dire shortage of suitable space for business growth in critical industries like manufacturing and logistics.
Not Enough Attention on the Second Crisis
While the housing crisis in Toronto has been the focus of political debates and policy changes, the lack of suitable space for business growth has not been getting the attention it deserves. The Ontario government’s recent policies to address the housing crisis have raised concerns about the weakening protections for critical employment lands, with at least 715 housing conversion requests identified in the Toronto region. This poses a significant threat to the availability of land for businesses to grow and thrive.
Protecting Employment Lands
Employment lands, which are zoned for industrial, commercial, institutional, and office uses, are crucial for the growth of industries and businesses in Toronto. The recent regulatory changes have effectively eliminated the protections for such lands, which will have a drastic impact on the economy, driving up the prices of available industrial land and potentially leading businesses to other jurisdictions to find the space they need to grow.
Finding the Right Balance
It’s crucial to find a balance between ensuring an adequate supply of housing and preserving land for industries to thrive. Policy and regulatory protections need to be put in place to safeguard employment lands, including formalizing buffer and transition zones, creating a regional inventory of employment lands, and implementing a holistic decision-making process to analyze the economic impact of conversion proposals.
As Toronto continues to grapple with the housing crisis, it’s essential to also consider the impact of regulatory changes on critical industries and businesses. Finding the right balance between housing supply and land for industry is crucial for the well-being of our communities and the health of our economy. If we don’t protect these lands, we will not only lose space for businesses to grow but also the jobs and economic activity they bring.”