The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is at risk of missing provincial population targets, which could lead to 7,200 fewer new homes being built each year until 2041, a new report warns.

That equates to up to 165,600 homes and an annual loss of $1.95 billion in GDP from residential construction activity, according to the report by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Canada.

The lack of the Missing Middle – medium-density housing starts – shoulders much of the blame, says Paul Smetanin, president of socio-economic research and data firm the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA). “Hamilton has made the most progress on the ‘Missing Middle,'” he says. “Toronto, Mississauga, Markham, Newmarket less so, while Brampton is biased towards lower density starts.”

A range of issues impact the GTHA’s most populous municipalities. For example, just 15 per cent of the region’s households live in medium-density housing, resulting in an inadequate supply of appropriate housing types for a range of household sizes and budgets.

Toronto’s number of annual starts is five to 15 per cent higher than required to hit Places to Grow targets. (Places to Grow is the provincial government’s program to manage growth and development in Ontario in a way that supports economic prosperity, protects the environment and helps communities achieve a high quality of life.)

However, the mix of housing is constrained by land, meaning the city’s supply will be highly skewed towards taller towers, the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance says. York Region is the only one in the GTHA with current annual starts on pace to meet its future target population.

Among municipalities with populations of more than 80,000, Oshawa, Brampton and Newmarket have the lowest share of higher-density starts. Municipalities can better optimize infrastructure investments by ensuring community growth planning is based on a long-term and strategic analysis of future housing requirements, the Alliance adds.

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