By Nicole Georges
Toronto Mayor John Tory says the city has big plans to meet the growing demands for housing and transportation in the city. The Mayor, who was the keynote speaker at a Christmas luncheon hosted by the Consular Corps Association of Toronto, said Toronto has enjoyed its share of success which has led to certain challenges.
“We have a great pool of talented people here. We have an excellent public education system, and we have a way of life here that embraces people from the first minute they arrive from other countries. This city and this country have been built by people who come from other countries. The by-product of being the fastest growing city in North America, is that the demand is outstripping the ability of the city to supply housing, in particular affordable housing.”
The Mayor clarified that “affordable housing” in the context he mentioned, referred not to social housing but to the inability of ably employed persons to afford the rising costs of home ownership. He promised a solution to this challenge, “We’ve embarked on an aggressive plan to build affordable housing at a pace much faster than we were doing before, and the same with transit. We’ve entered into an agreement with the governments of Ontario, and Canada to build transit at an unprecedented pace. We pay for these things collectively [taxes].”
Tory highlighted the socio-economic advancements Toronto has made, thanks to Canada’s progressive immigration policies, “Other countries look to us not for perfection, but for guidance on how they too can have such an inclusive society, because half the people here come from other countries. I was heartened in 2019, when a party that emerged with a commentary that was skeptical of immigration in this country, only got 1.6 per cent of the vote. Canadians said immigration works for us and will continue to work for us.”
However, he cautioned that if government fails to meet the demand for increased housing and transit due to population growth, a brain drain will occur, “If people who make a reasonable income, holding secure, important jobs in the context of the sound functioning of our economy, can’t find a place to live in Toronto, then they won’t. They will go and live somewhere else because they’re not going to accept a three hour commute to Toronto daily. They will take their skills and ability and go live somewhere else which will not be in the best interest of the city, nor is it in our best social interest.”
The Mayor assured he is confident that the city now has ambitious plans in place, with funding mechanisms through the help of the other governments, to deal with addressing housing and transit needs.
The Consular Corp Association of Toronto Christmas Luncheon was held at the National Club, 303 Bay Street, Toronto.