The Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) is home to almost 10 million people and quite significant to Canada, accounting for roughly 27 per cent of all Canadians. The GGH is to Canada as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Houston are together to the USA. By the year 2051, the population of the GGH is forecasted to be 15.5 million people—that’s 5.5 million more than today.
Where and how will all those people live?
According to a recent Scotiabank report, Estimating the Structural Housing Shortage in Canada: Are We 100 Thousand or Nearly 2 Million Units Short?, Canada suffers from a chronic insufficiency of home supply, with the lowest number of housing units per 1,000 residents of any G7 country.
Housing is critical and complicated. And no one is in charge of it. Innovation in housing is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity and it’s on the rise in the GGH. Almost everything we now do in housing needs to improve, from how we create new homes to how we operate, finance, own and use them. This calls for significant disruption of the status quo and an unprecedented level of collaboration between industry, consumers and government.
There is good evidence that this new era of innovation is starting and here are a few examples. New condominiums are a critical part of the new supply of housing, but complexities in the final stages of a multi-year journey for purchasers requires the payment of interim occupancy interest. This effectively forces consumers to rent their own unit for several months before the developer can register the condominium, allowing the purchasers to close on their unit and begin paying off their mortgage.
Industry-led innovation from the finance, insurance, legal and technology industries has created a OneClose solution that allows purchasers to obtain a mortgage at the time of occupancy. This solution not only saves the consumers money (avoiding interim occupancy interest payments), but also provides a liquidity solution for developers to redeploy their money to the next project and increase the pace of housing supply.
Total housing supply cannot be accomplished through high-rise development alone. Lower and middle density is also needed and is sadly lacking to the point it has been given a name in the industry as “The Missing Middle.” Innovation in this space is coming from Toronto-based R-Hauz, which uses digital twin technologies, panelization and offsite fabrication to create cross-laminated timber structures that, most importantly, disrupt the current business model.
R-Hauz has turned housing into a consumer product category where owners of properties on the city’s avenues or laneways can configure and create new housing supply. This helps the market self-solve the housing needs of their families—parents, children, relatives—or provide rental housing for friends or for others in their community, offering housing products that conform to city planning frameworks. As an added bonus, this solution is repeatable, saving the city valuable time and money and resulting in faster, cheaper, smarter and healthier housing solutions. The six-storey structures for R-Hauz’s first buildings at Queen and Coxwell were erected in five and a half weeks.
Housing is a problem that consumers, the industry and government are all in together. And industry innovation is key to both its and the GGH’s future.
George Carras is the Founder and CEO of R-LABS Canada Inc., the Industry’s Company Builder Platform — Solving Problems in Housing and Commercial Real Estate. For more information, visit https://www.rlabs.ca.