Transcript: What Should the Government Do About Housing? | Apr 08, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and checked blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Can Canada solve housing affordability? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says WHETHER CANADA'S EXPERIENCING A PANDEMIC HOUSING BUBBLE OR NOT, AFFORDABILITY IS A WIDESPREAD CONCERN. ADAM VAUGHAN IS THE LIBERAL MEMBER FOR SPADINA-FORT YORK. HE'S ON THE HOUSING FILE AS THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE MINISTER OF FAMILIES, CHILDREN AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT. AND HE JOINS US NOW FROM DOWNTOWN TORONTO ON WHAT OTTAWA CAN DO ABOUT THE HOUSING CRUNCH.

Adam is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing glasses and a black shirt.

Steve continues ADAM, HAVEN'T SEEN YOU IN A WHILE. HOW ARE YOU DOING?

Adam says PRETTY GOOD. IT'S BEEN AN INTERESTING YEAR. A LOT OF WORK ON THE HOUSING FRONT, BUT WE'RE GETTING THROUGH IT AND HOPEFULLY SO TOO ARE YOUR LISTENERS.

Steve says LET'S GET TO IT HERE. WE'RE GOING TO START WITH A FACT FILE HERE AND BRING UP SOME INFORMATION THAT WILL PROPEL OUR DISCUSSION. FOR EXAMPLE...

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Price increases in Ontario homes."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
HOUSE PRICES AS YOU WELL KNOW HAVE INCREASED 25 percent ACROSS CANADA BETWEEN FEBRUARY OF 2020 TO FEBRUARY OF '21. 25 PERCENT IN ONE YEAR. HOME PRICES IN TORONTO'S ALREADY EXPENSIVE MARKET INCREASED 15 percent, AND THE AVERAGE HOME PRICE, INCLUDING ALL TYPES OF HOUSING, SURPASSED A MILLION DOLLARS FOR THE FIRST TIME. HOME OWNERS EVEN IN MID-SIZE CITIES SUCH AS HAMILTON, GUELPH, KITCHENER-WATERLOO, THEY SAW GAINS OF 25 TO 30 PERCENT. JUST ABOVE THAT WHERE PRICES INCREASED BY ALMOST A THIRD WERE MANY SMALLER CITIES. I'M THINKING HERE BANCROFT, BARRIE, NORTH BAY, KAWARTHA LAKES, AMONG OTHERS. THE HIGHEST PRICES WERE IN DURHAM AND THE COTTAGE COUNTRY REGIONS OF TILLSONBURG AND WOODSTOCK INGERSOLL WHERE INCREASES WERE MORE THAN 35 percent. LET'S START IN ON THIS. HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT HOUSING AFFORDABILITY IN THIS PROVINCE AND COUNTRY TODAY?

The caption changes to "Adam Vaughan. Liberal MP, Spadina-Fort York."
Then, it changes again to "A volatile year."

Adam says WELL, EXTRAORDINARILY CONCERNED. IT'S EFFECTIVELY WHY I'M IN POLITICS. HOUSING IS SOMETHING THAT GOVERNMENTS HAVE A TREMENDOUS RESPONSIBILITY TO BECAUSE IT'S THE WAY CANADIANS REALIZE THEIR MIDDLE CLASS STATUS AND SECURE THEIR MIDDLE CLASS STATUS, AS WELL AS THEIR RETIREMENT. SO HOMES MEAN A LOT TO PEOPLE. AND WHILE WE TALK A LOT ABOUT AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND HOUSING FOR PEOPLE IN PRECARIOUS SITUATIONS, WE ALSO HAVE TO KEEP OUR EYE ON HOUSING AFFORDABILITY. 86.2 percent OF CANADIANS, I THINK IS THE EXACT FIGURE, GET THEIR HOUSING NEEDS MET THROUGH THE PRIVATE MARKET. WHEN THE PRIVATE MARKET STARTS TO DISTORT OR ACCELERATE OR INFLATE THE WAY IT HAS, IT IS EXTRAORDINARILY CONCERNING BECAUSE IT ALSO MEANS IT'S TOUGH FOR FIRST-TIME BUYERS TO GET OUT OF THE RENTAL MARKET INTO THE HOME MARKET, WHICH ALSO THEN HAS COMPLICATIONS FOR RENTAL AFFORDABILITY. SO WE HAVE TO WATCH ALL COMPONENTS OF THE SPECTRUM AND HOUSING AFFORDABILITY IS ONE THAT'S CENTRAL TO US AS WELL.

Steve says LET'S SHOW THIS CLIP FROM A CANADA MORTGAGE AND HOUSING NEWS CONFERENCE THAT TOOK PLACE LAST WEEK AND WE'LL COME OUT OF THAT WITH A QUESTION. SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD?

A clip plays on screen with the caption "April 1, 2021."
In the clip, Adam speaks on screen.

He says I REMEMBER BEING AT A PUBLIC MEETING AND SOMEBODY SAID, CAN YOU GET THE PRICE OF HOUSING DOWN BY 10 percent? AND I SAID I UNDERSTAND WHY THAT IS SEEN AS A POSITIVE THING FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO GET INTO THE MARKET, BUT HANDS UP IF YOU'D LIKE TO SEE 10 percent OF THE EQUITY IN YOUR HOME SUDDENLY DISAPPEAR OVERNIGHT. WE KNOW THAT CANADIANS RELY ON HOME OWNERSHIP TO SECURE THEIR PLACE IN THE ECONOMY NOW, BUT ALSO AS THEY RETIRE. WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL THAT WHATEVER STEPS WE TAKE PROTECT THE INVESTMENTS CANADIANS HAVE MADE IN THEIR HOMES BUT AT THE SAME TIME CREATE THAT BRIDGE TO HOME OWNERSHIP IN PARTICULAR FOR FIRST-TIME BUYERS.

The clip ends.

Steve says OKAY. THAT WAS YOU LAST WEEK. I GUESS THE QUESTION COMING OUT OF THAT IS...

Adam says GEEZ, I WAS ELOQUENT.

Steve says YOU NEED A LITTLE WORK ON THE BACKGROUND WHICH LOOKS A LITTLE SIMILAR TODAY. BUT IF HOUSING PRICES ARE GOING UP 30 TO 40 PERCENT AND THEY'RE ONLY GOING... I MEAN, THE SUGGESTION IN THAT CLIP WAS THEY MIGHT GO DOWN 10 percent, THAT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE THE KIND OF VOLATILITY THAT OUGHT TO FREAK TOO MANY PEOPLE OUT, DON'T YOU THINK?

The caption changes to "Adam Vaughan. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. @TOAdamVaughan."

Adam says WELL, YOU KNOW, IT'S A SITUATION WHERE YOU DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO BE UNDERWATER WITH THEIR MORTGAGES AND YOU DON'T WANT PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE DEPOSITS ON PROPERTIES SUDDENLY FINDING THEMSELVES UNDERWATER IF THEY CLOSE THE DEAL BECAUSE THEY'LL START WALKING AWAY FROM PROJECTS AND THAT COULD COLLAPSE AND HAVE IMPACTS ON THE DEVELOPMENT INDUSTRY. SO YOU'VE GOT TO BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT THIS. I THINK THE REAL ISSUE HERE IS NOT SO MUCH DEFLATION OR PUSHING SORT OF POPPING THE BUBBLE, WE'VE GOT TO SORT OF BRING IT BACK INTO RATIO WITH THE ECONOMY, AND I THINK THE TROUBLE IS THAT WE'VE GOT GLOBAL REAL ESTATE MARKETS IN MAJOR CITIES, BUT WE STILL HAVE A CANADIAN ECONOMY THAT PEOPLE ARE EARNING INCOME FROM. AND IT'S OUT OF BALANCE, QUITE FRANKLY. AND SO WE HAVE TO PULL SOME OF THE SPECULATION OUT OF THE MARKET TO TRY AND DAMPEN THE INFLATION, AND THEN WE HAVE TO BUILD THOSE BRIDGES TO HOME OWNERSHIP, IN PARTICULAR, AS I SAID, FIRST TIME BUYERS. AND IT'S A NUMBER OF MEASURES YOU HAVE TO TAKE, BUT, YOU KNOW, THE RISK ALWAYS IS WHATEVER YOU DO TO MAKE IT EASIER TO BUY A HOME, YOU CREATE MORE INFLATION. AND SO IT'S NOT AS EASY... IT'S NOT A BINARY SORT OF DYNAMIC OF JUST SUPPLY AND DEMAND. THERE ARE ALSO SOME OTHER MONETARY COMPONENTS TO IT THAT HAVE TO BE EXAMINED AND UNDERSTOOD.

Steve says NO, I HEAR WHAT YOU'RE SAYING. BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, IF THE PRICES ARE GOING UP 20 AND 30 AND 40 PERCENT, AND IT COMES DOWN 10 PERCENT, THAT'S IN THE GOING TO PUT ANYBODY UNDERWATER... FAIR TO SAY?

Adam says IN THE SHORT TERM, MAYBE NOT, UNLESS YOU'RE IN A POSITION YOU HAVE TO MOVE AND ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU'RE TAKING A LOSS ON A HOUSE YOU JUST BOUGHT. THAT COULD WIPE OUT OR MAKE DIFFICULT YOUR NEXT PURCHASE. YOU HAVE TO MODEL THESE NUMBERS INTO INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCES TO UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT THEY HAVE ON DIFFERENT CANADIANS IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE COUNTRY. BUT I THINK THE REAL ISSUE IS, HOW DO WE GET THAT INFLATIONARY SORT OF SURGE THAT'S IN THE MARKET RIGHT NOW BACK INTO AN AREA THAT IS A BIT MORE NORMALIZED AND HOW DO WE TURN HOME OWNERSHIP INTO AN OPPORTUNITY WITHOUT MAKING IT A RISK.

Steve says GOOD QUESTIONS WHICH I'M GOING TO COME BACK TO IN A SECOND BECAUSE I HAVE ONE MORE FOLLOW-UP FROM THE PREVIOUS LINE OF QUESTIONING, AND THAT IS: IF PEOPLE BOUGHT MORE HOUSE THAN THEY REALLY COULD AFFORD, DO YOU SEE IT AS THE GOVERNMENT'S JOB TO PROTECT THAT INVESTMENT FOR THEM?

Adam says NOT ON AN INDIVIDUAL CASE-BY-CASE BASIS. PEOPLE ENTERTAIN RISK AND MAKE THOSE CALCULATIONS AND THEY HAVE TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE RISK THEY BRING INTO THEIR LIVES. BUT THE PROBLEM IS, IF FIVE OF YOUR NEIGHBOURS START TO HEAD IN THE WRONG DIRECTION, WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU IF YOU DIDN'T TAKE A RISK? WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU IF... WHAT HAPPENS TO CITY WHEN MARKET VALUE ASSESSMENT IS THE FINANCIAL BASE FOR THEIR BUDGETARY PROCESSES? SO WE NEED A REGULATED MARKET. NOT BECAUSE GOVERNMENTS DO REGULATION PROPERLY ALL THE TIME, BUT WE NEED A MARKET THAT'S PREDICTABLE, A MARKET THAT'S STEADY, AND A MARKET THAT, QUITE FRANKLY, MEETS THE HOUSING NEEDS OF CANADIANS BY ACCOMMODATING THE CHOICES THEY WANT TO MAKE? ARE THERE INDIVIDUAL CHOICES AND RISKS INVOLVED IN THAT? OF COURSE THERE ARE. BUT THE CHALLENGE IS THAT OUR MARKET HAS BECOME A MARKET THAT'S DRIVEN BY SPECULATION, AND THE EXPECTATION OF INFLATION. AND WHEN YOU GET INTO THAT SORT OF A CYCLE, IT GETS VERY, VERY TRICKY TO CURB SPECULATION WHILE YOU ACCOMMODATE DEMAND, WHILE YOU PROVIDE SUPPLY TO THE MARKET. THOSE ARE THE CHALLENGES WE'RE WORKING WITH. AND SO WE'RE TAKING A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT STEPS, SMALL STEPS, BECAUSE, AGAIN, WE DON'T WANT TO SURGE PEOPLE INTO THE MARKET ANY MORE THAN WE WANT TO PULL PEOPLE OUT QUICKLY, AND WE HAVE TO TURN THIS BOAT AROUND IN A WAY THAT DOESN'T DE-HOUSE CANADIANS BUT ALSO SUSTAINS PEOPLE'S CHOICE SO THEY CAN MOVE TO A NEW CITY FOR A JOB OR ACCOMMODATE A KID MOVING OUT OR ADD A MEMBER TO THE HOUSEHOLD... WHATEVER THE CHALLENGES ARE THEY'RE FACING, WE HAVE TO SUPPORT THE CHOICES THAT CANADIANS ARE GOING TO BE MAKING.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says WE JUST HEARD FROM A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO ARE IN THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS EARLIER IN THE PROGRAM, AND TO A PERSON THEY ALL SAY THE BIGGEST PART OF THE SOLUTION HERE IS MORE SUPPLY. WE JUST HAVE TO GET MORE SUPPLY ON THE MARKET. DO YOU AGREE?

The caption changes to "Building supply."

Adam says THAT IS PART OF THE EQUATION. NOT THE ONLY PART. I THINK IT'S CRITICAL, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THAT, THAT WE ALSO DON'T JUST RESPOND TO MARKET DEMAND BECAUSE MARKET DEMAND SOMETIMES IS NOT LOOKING 10, 25, AND 30 YEARS DOWN THE ROAD IN TERMS OF WHERE DEMOGRAPHICS ARE HEADING. A PERFECT EXAMPLE, IN THE MAJOR CITIES WHERE THERE'S BEEN A CONDO BOOM, IN PLACES LIKE VANCOUVER AND TORONTO, TO A LESSER EXTENT OTTAWA AND MONTREAL, THE MAJOR CITY, BUT THE BOOM HAS CREATED ONE-BEDROOM UNITS. THEY'RE A GREAT PLACE TO START A FAMILY. LOTS OF FAMILIES START THAT WAY. BUT IT'S A REALLY TOUGH PLACE TO RAISE A FAMILY AND THEY'RE LOCKED IN AND THEY CAN'T EXPAND AND MODEL THEMSELVES AROUND DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE. SO WHEN WE SAY SUPPLY IS AN ISSUE, YES. BUT THAT REQUIRES CITIES TO DO GOOD PLANNING. IT REQUIRES US MODELLING THE MARKET AND DIRECTING THE MARKET TO WHERE DEMOGRAPHICS ARE GOING TO GO. IT REQUIRES US TO ALSO BALANCE OUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF WHAT SUPPLY LOOKS LIKE WHEN WE TALK ABOUT SPRAWL AND WE TALK ABOUT INFRASTRUCTURE REQUIRED TO SERVICE IT, EVERYTHING FROM WATER PIPES TO TRANSIT TO ROADS TO HOSPITALS AND SCHOOLS, ALL OF WHICH, IF YOU TALK TO A REAL ESTATE AGENT, ARE THE THREE MAGIC WORDS OF REAL ESTATE, WHICH IS LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. AND CHECK A REAL ESTATE LISTING. I KNOW REAL ESTATE AGENTS LIKE TO TALK ABOUT SUPPLY AND DEMAND AND JUST THE MARKET FORCES. BUT WHAT DRIVES REAL ESTATE PRICES ARE THOSE THREE MAGIC WORDS, AND LOCATION ALMOST EVERY SINGLE TIME IS A PUBLIC INVESTMENT IN MAKING YOUR LIFE MORE AFFORDABLE BECAUSE YOU'VE BOUGHT A HOUSE THAT'S EXPENSIVE. WHEN YOU BUY A SINGLE FAMILY HOME IN DOWNTOWN TORONTO, YOU GET ALL THOSE PIECES OF INFRASTRUCTURE. BUT IF YOU GO TO THE SUBURBS, A SCHOOL OR A HOSPITAL MIGHT NOT BE AS EASILY ACCESSIBLE, TRANSIT BECOMES A BIT MORE OF A CHALLENGE, AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT IN TERMS OF MANAGING WATER AND CLEAN AIR, THE MORE WE SPRAWL, THE MORE WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH CLIMATE CHANGE. SUPPLY IS AN ISSUE AND SUPPLY IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO MEET THE DEMANDS WE HAVE, AND WE HAVE A VERY GOOD SYSTEM OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT CREATING A LOT OF NEW HOUSING IN CANADA, AS WE HAVE IMMIGRANTS, AS WE GROW THE POPULATION. BUT THE CHALLENGE IS MORE THAN JUST SIMPLY ADDING DOORS. IT'S ABOUT BUILDING STRONG NEIGHBOURHOODS AND STRONG COMMUNITIES, AND THAT'S WHY FEDERALLY WE TIE OUR HOUSING PROGRAM TO OUR TRANSIT PROGRAM, TO OUR WATER PROGRAM, TO OUR GROWTH PLANS AROUND IMMIGRATION. AND WHEN WE DO THAT, YOU GET A SYSTEM THAT KIND OF MOVES ALONG THE WAY IT'S SUPPOSED TO AND EVOLVES IN A WAY THAT GIVES PEOPLE CHOICES. RIGHT NOW, HOWEVER, I WOULD ARGUE, AND AS I SAID I GOT INTO POLITICS BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF HOUSING POLICY FEDERALLY, THE LACK OF STRATEGIC THINKING AND, QUITE FRANKLY, INVESTMENTS INTO HOUSING FEDERALLY HAVE LED US INTO THIS PLACE WE'RE IN THIS VERY STRANGE MARKET. WE'RE IN A SAFE MARKET FOR FOREIGN INVESTMENT BUT WE'RE NOT IN A GREAT MARKET FOR CANADIANS LOOKING FOR CHOICES AROUND HOUSING. SO WE'VE GOT TO MAKE A NUMBER OF DECISIONS THAT ADDRESS THE TWO SIDES OF THIS COIN: AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND HOUSING AFFORDABILITY, AND WE NEED TO SUPPORT CANADIANS IN ACQUIRING THE SHELTER THEY NEED BUT BUILDING COMMUNITIES SO THEY HAVE A GREAT QUALITY OF LIFE. IT'S NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO DO. WE'RE ONE OF THE BEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD AROUND HOUSING. BUT WE HAVE WORK TO DO AROUND THAT GAP AROUND THE TRANSITION BETWEEN RENTAL AND OWNERSHIP, AND WE HAVE WORK TO DO AROUND DEEP AFFORDABILITY BUT WE ALSO NEED TO ENSURE WE SUSTAIN MODERATE GROWTH IN THE HOUSING MARKET AS OPPOSED TO THE SURGES WE SEE THAT QUITE FRANKLY SCARE A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE FINANCIAL SECTOR.

Steve says I SUSPECT EVERYBODY WATCHING THIS OR LISTENING TO THIS HAS HEARD OF THE GREENBELT. I SUSPECT THERE ARE FEWER, AND I INCLUDE MYSELF IN THAT, THIS IS SOMETHING NEW I LEARNED, SOMETHING CALLED THE YELLOW BELT WHICH IS COINED BY AN URBAN PLANNER WHICH INCLUDES THE VAST MAJORITY OF RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBOURHOODS IN ONTARIO CITIES AND SUBURBS WHERE YOU'RE PRETTY MUCH ONLY ALLOWED TO BUILD SINGLE FAMILY DWELLINGS. AND I WONDER, HOW MUCH OF THAT...

Adam says YOU KNOW, THAT'S... I'VE HEARD THAT. I WAS A CITY COUNCILLOR AND I'VE DEALT WITH PLANNING ISSUES VIRTUALLY SINCE JOINING POLITICS AND ALSO AS A MUNICIPAL JOURNALIST. THERE IS A SENSE THAT THE OLDER NEIGHBOURHOODS IN OLDER CITIES ARE PROTECTED AND THEY PROBABLY ARE FOR GOOD REASON. THEY'RE HIGH DENSITY AND VERY EFFECTIVE IN TERMS OF USING TRANSIT TO GET AROUND URBAN CORES, ESPECIALLY IN TORONTO. AND THERE IS A SENSE THAT YOU SHOULDN'T BE SQUASHING THESE COMMUNITIES OR DEMOLISHING THEM IN THE SAME WAY THEY DID IN THE '50s AND '60s WITH ROBERT MOSES, BIG APARTMENT BUILDINGS AND EXPRESSWAYS AND ALL THE THINGS AMERICAN CITIES DID TO DESTROY THEIR DOWNTOWN CORES. THERE MAY HAVE BEEN A BIT OF AN OVERREACH IN PLACES LIKE TORONTO WHERE YOU'VE SEEN VERY RESTRICTIVE POLICIES AROUND SINGLE FAMILY HOMES. BUT ON THE MAIN STREETS, WE NEED TO INTENSIFY. BUT YOU CAN DO IT. YOU JUST HAVE TO... THE TROUBLE WE HAVE IN... THIS EXPRESSION COMES OUT OF TORONTO PRIMARILY. BUT THE REALITY IS THAT IF YOU DON'T HAVE CONTROL OVER DEVELOPING THE MAIN STREETS, YOU PROTECT EVERYTHING. THE REALITY IS IN ONTARIO WE HAVE SUCH A RIDICULOUS PROVINCIAL PLANNING REGIME THAT'S IMPOSED ON MATURE CITIES IN A WAY THAT JUST DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE. IF CITY COUNCIL HAD THE FINAL SAY IN EVERY PROJECT, YOU WOULD SEE INTENSIFICATION IN EVERY NEIGHBOURHOOD, IT WOULD BE DONE IN A GOOD, SMART WAY, YOU'D ADD DENSITY ON THE MAIN STREETS WHERE IT'S NEEDED WHILE LEAVING SINGLE FAMILY HOMES ALONE AND YOU WOULDN'T END IN THIS SITUATION...

Steve says ADAM, I'M GOING TO JUMP IN ON THAT.

Adam says ZONING IS AN ISSUE BUT IT DOESN'T SOLVE THE PROBLEM IN AND OF ITSELF.

Steve says I HEAR WHAT YOU'RE SAYING. ON THE OTHER HAND, THERE'S BEEN A SUBWAY LINE ALONG THE DANFORTH FOR DECADES. THERE'S LESS DENSITY THERE TODAY THAN THERE PROBABLY WAS 50 YEARS AGO. YOU KNOW, WE'VE GOT DOUBLE THE POPULATION COMING TO THE GREATER TORONTO AREA OVER THE NEXT 25 YEARS. WHERE THE HECK IS EVERYBODY GOING TO LIVE?

Adam says LOOK IT, YOU'RE ASKING ME SHOULD THE DANFORTH BE INTENSIFIED? ABSOLUTELY. AND IT ALSO SHOWS YOU THE FOLLY OF BUILDING SUBWAY LINES TO NOWHERE AND HOPING THAT DENSITY ARRIVES. WHAT YOU DO WITH TRANSIT IS YOU INTENSIFY AS YOU DENSIFY SIMULTANEOUSLY, AND IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A MODEL TO FOLLOW, I'D GO TO MELBOURNE. MELBOURNE IS A CITY VERY SIMILAR TO TORONTO, LAID OUT IN THE SAME MILITARY BRITISH GRID FROM THE COLONIAL ERA. IT HAS A VERY SIMILAR CONFIGURATION AROUND RIVERS AND VALLEYS AND DOT, DOT, DOT AND IT RUNS ON STREETCARS AND SURFACE RAIL. WHAT THEY'VE DONE IS TARGET STREETS FOR INTENSIFICATION AND THEY BLEND AN INTENSIFICATION OF URBAN AND RESIDENTIAL SPACE AND COMMERCIAL AND INSTITUTIONAL AND OFFICE SPACE, AND THEN THEY ALSO ADD INTENSIFIED TRANSIT SIMULTANEOUSLY. AND IT'S BEEN A VERY EFFECTIVE WAY OF INTENSIFYING STREETS LIKE THE DANFORTH IN MELBOURNE. YOU CAN GO TO COUNTLESS EXAMPLES OF HOW MELBOURNE HAS DONE IT. THE TROUBLE IS THAT MELBOURNE DID THAT. AND IT DID IT WITH A VERY DIFFERENT PROVINCIAL-CITY SPLIT ON POWERS. BUT FUNDAMENTALLY, THE CITY HAD RESPONSIBILITY FOR BUILDING THE CITY. NOT SOMEBODY FROM THUNDER BAY TRYING TO DECIDE WHERE THE SUBWAY IN TORONTO SHOULD GO OR WHAT A HERITAGE BUILDING SHOULD LOOK LIKE NEXT WEEK AFTER IT GETS REZONED AT QUEEN'S PARK BY SOMEBODY FROM BELLEVILLE, QUITE FRANKLY. THE CITY WAS ALLOWED TO BUILD ITSELF, THE CITY WAS ALLOWED TO INTENSIFY ITSELF, AND THE CITY WAS IN CHARGE OF BUILDING THE BUDGET AROUND THAT TO MAKE IT FUNCTIONAL. IT CAN BE DONE. BUT IT CAN'T BE DONE WITH A SORT OF PARENTALISM THAT COMES FROM QUEEN'S PARK. IF THEY WANT TORONTO TO INTENSIFY, GIVE TORONTO THE AUTHORITY TO RUN ITS AFFAIRS. STOP MESSING WITH THE ELECTIONS. STOP MESSING WITH THE PLANNING. STOP MESSING WITH THE TRANSIT. AND STRENGTHEN YOUR CITY INSTEAD OF TREATING IT LIKE IT DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO BUILD ITSELF. I'M NOT PICKING ON ANY OF THE CITIES I'LL REFERENCE, BUT THE IDEA THAT SOMEBODY FROM BARRIE SHOULD DECIDE WHERE DENSITY SHOULD GO IN TORONTO IS ABSURD. IT GETS EVEN WORSE WHEN YOU TAKE IT TO THE FEDERAL LEVEL. SOMEONE FROM YELLOWKNIFE DECIDES WHETHER OR NOT TORONTO SHOULD GET SUBWAY INFRASTRUCTURE. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. IF WE WANT GREAT CITIES, WE WANT STRONG CITIES, AND I WOULD ARGUE IF YOU GET STRONG CITIES, YOU GET A STRONGER COUNTRY, YOU'VE GOT TO INVEST AND PRIORITIZE AROUND URBAN AND MUNICIPAL POLITICS, AND QUITE FRANKLY IN THIS COUNTRY, WE JUST HAVEN'T ELEVATED CITIES TO THE EXTENT WE NEED TO. DO THAT AND YOU'RE GOING TO START TO SEE SMARTER PLANNING DECISIONS, YOU'RE GOING TO SEE THAT MISSING MIDDLE EMERGE, BUT YOU'RE ALSO GOING TO SEE CITIES THAT PERFORM BETTER ECONOMICALLY, AND THAT'S GOOD FOR THE PROVINCE AND FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN THE LONG RUN. SO IF YOU WANT THE MISSING MIDDLE TO BE ADDRESSED, GIVE CITIES THE POWER TO ADDRESS IT, BUT LET THEM DO IT WITH THE ELEGANCE AND THE INTELLIGENCE THAT PEOPLE WHO BUILD CITIES BRING TO CITY BUILDING.

Steve says I HEAR WHAT YOU'RE SAYING. BUT DO CITIES NOT ALREADY CONTROL THEIR OWN ZONING DECISIONS?

Adam says NO, NO. AS LONG AS YOU'VE GOT THE PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL APPEALS... WE WIPED OUT THE OMB AND THEN THE FORD GOVERNMENT BROUGHT IT BACK. IT WAS NOT A SMART DECISION. WE DON'T LET CITIES INTENSIFY AND CHOOSE THEIR TRANSIT LINES. LOOK AT THE ONTARIO LINE AS IT MOVES THROUGH THE RIDING I REPRESENT. IT'S GOING TO GO DIAGONALLY, SWEEPING THROUGH A NEIGHBOURHOOD FULL OF CONDOMINIUMS. DO YOU KNOW HOW DEEP IN THE HOLE YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO BUILD TO THREAD THE ONTARIO LINE THROUGH THE ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT? IT'S ABSURD. AND NO ONE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD HAS EVER EVEN ASKED FOR IT. BUT WE'RE GETTING A SUBWAY FROM ONTARIO PLACE TO CITY HALL. IT'S CRAZY. SO IF YOU WANT THE REAL ESTATE MARKET AND YOU WANT THE HOUSING AND YOU WANT THE AFFORDABILITY AND THE DIVERSITY OF HOUSEHOLDS TO EXIST IN THE CITY, GIVE THE CITIES, THE MATURE CITIES, THE LARGE CITIES, BOTH THE TAX BASE AND THE POLITICAL AUTHORITY TO DO WHAT THEY NEED TO DO AND YOU'RE GOING TO START TO SEE A LOT OF THESE HOUSING ISSUES RESOLVE THEMSELVES AND RESOLVE IN A WAY THAT BUILD STRONGER CITIES. THE FEDERAL RESPONSIBILITY IN THAT IS TO BE A STRONG FUNDING PARTNER. THE PROVINCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IS TO LITERALLY GET OUT OF THE WAY AND ALLOW THE MAJOR CITIES TO PLAN AND BUILD THEMSELVES AND RUN THEMSELVES, MOST IMPORTANTLY. AND THEN AT THE LOCAL LEVEL, YOU KNOW, IT'S ABOUT CITY-BUILDING. IT'S NOT ABOUT BUILDING BUDGETS AND IT'S NOT ABOUT ADDRESSING THE SOCIAL CHALLENGES THAT COME FROM NOT BUILDING A GOOD CITY. IT COMES FROM MAKING SURE THAT THE LOCAL CITY COUNCIL HAS THE CAPACITY TO DO THAT. I MEAN, TORONTO IS A GREAT CITY. IT WASN'T BUILT BY ACCIDENT. IT WAS BUILT BY TORONTONIANS. AND IT'S TIME THAT TORONTONIANS ARE GIVEN CREDIT FOR THAT. AND AT THE SAME TIME TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THE AMAZING HOUSING INITIATIVES THAT HAVE EMERGED OUT OF TORONTO SINCE THE SECOND WORLD WAR. ALL OF THE MAJOR INNOVATIONS... CO-OP HOUSING, MIXED MODEL INCOME NEIGHBOURHOODS, TRANSIT DEPENDENT NEIGHBOURHOODS, GREEN NEIGHBOURHOODS... THE BIG CITIES ARE LEADING THIS CONVERSATION. AND SO IF YOU WANT STRONGER CITIES, IF YOU WANT CITIES THAT GIVE PEOPLE CHOICE AND OPPORTUNITY, IF YOU WANT CITIES THAT ACCOMMODATE THE DIVERSITY OF PEOPLE WE HAVE IN THIS COUNTRY, IF THAT'S THE GOAL HERE... AND HOUSING IS A FUNDAMENTAL BUILDING BLOCK TO THAT... WELL THEN YOU HAVE TO START REALIZING THAT CITIES ARE A PARTNER IN THIS PROCESS, ARE AN EQUAL ORDER OF GOVERNMENT, AND WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STEPPED UP AND WAS STARTING TO GREAT RESULTS, WHEN WE HAVE A PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT THAT STILL THINKS IT RUNS TORONTO FROM WHO KNOWS WHERE OR RUNS OTTAWA FROM WHO KNOWS WHERE OR RUNS WINDSOR FROM WHO KNOWS WHERE OR WHO IS MAKING THE DECISIONS ABOUT LONDON'S TRANSIT PLANNING, WHEN THOSE DECISIONS ARE TAKEN AWAY FROM CITIES, YOU GET A HOUSING CRISIS AND A TRANSIT CRISIS AND A CLIMATE CRISIS AND YOU GOAT SOCIAL INEQUITY. WHERE'S THE PAYOFF IN THAT.

Steve says I GET YOU. WE DO HAVE A PREMIER OF ONTARIO WHO REPRESENTS A TORONTO RIDING. IT'S NOT LIKE THE GUY'S FROM...

Adam says SOMETIMES I WONDER.

Steve says HE REPRESENTS THE NORTH END OF ETOBICOKE AND HE'S LIVED HERE HIS WHOLE LIFE. HE CERTAINLY THINKS HE HAS A PRETTY GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF HOW TORONTO WORKS.

Adam says HOW DID HE DO WHEN HE RAN FOR MAYOR IN TORONTO?

Steve says HOW DID HE DO WHEN HE RAN FOR PREMIER OF ONTARIO?

Adam says WELL, HE WON, BUT I WOULD ARGUE, QUITE FRANKLY, THAT AS THE PREMIER OF ONTARIO, HE'S HURTING TORONTO. HE ATTACKED IT DURING THE LAST ELECTION. AND I WOULD SAY THAT SOME OF HIS DECISIONS, QUITE FRANKLY, HAVE NOT BEEN TO THE BENEFIT OF THE CITY. AS A RESULT THE CITY IS STRUGGLING. WHEN TORONTO STRUGGLES, IT LEADS TO STRUGGLES ELSEWHERE IN ONTARIO. THERE'S NO... YOU KNOW, IF YOU TAKE A LOOK AT NATIONS, WHEN THEY GO TO WAR, THEY BOMB EACH OTHER'S CITIES BECAUSE THEY KNOW THE WAY TO WEAKEN THE COUNTRY IS TO WEAKEN THE CAPITAL. WELL, IT'S THE SAME THING POLITICALLY IN ONTARIO. IF YOU START HAMMERING TORONTO ENDLESSLY, ONTARIO AND... LOOK IT, I INCLUDE HAMILTON, LONDON, AND OTTAWA AND ALL THE MAJOR CITIES IN ONTARIO. WHEN THEY'RE NOT DOING WELL, THE PROVINCE DOESN'T DO WELL. AND I APPRECIATE THAT WE HAVE A SYSTEM WE'VE INHERITED. BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE CAN'T MAKE IT BETTER. AND WE HAVE MADE IT BETTER IN THE PAST. WE'VE GIVEN CITIES OF CERTAIN SIZES ADDITIONAL POWERS, ADDITIONAL TAXES, ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES. AND WHEN WE GIVE CITIES STRENGTH, GUESS WHAT? THEY PERFORM BETTER. SO WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HOUSING WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE SOCIAL OUTCOMES OF OUR URBAN FABRIC, WE NEED AFFORDABLE HOUSING, WE NEED HOUSING AFFORDABILITY, WE NEED CHOICES IN OUR HOUSING SYSTEMS. BUT IT COMES FROM BUILDING GOOD, STRONG COMMUNITIES AND LINKING THEM TOGETHER AND BUILDING THEM TOGETHER AS A CITY. AND SO WE CAME ONTO THE SHOW TO TALK ABOUT HOUSING. BUT FUNDAMENTALLY, IF YOU GET YOUR CITIES BUILDING... LEADING STRONG HOUSING POLICY, WITH THE INVESTMENTS REQUIRED TO REALIZE IT, ESPECIALLY AROUND TRANSIT AND WATER, IF YOU SET THOSE CITIES UP TO SUCCEED, THE HOUSING MARKET WILL BE BETTER FOR CANADIANS AND FOLKS IN ONTARIO AND TORONTO AS WELL. PART OF THE REASON I LEFT CITY COUNCIL AND WENT TO OTTAWA WAS TO MAKE THE ARGUMENT FEDERALLY BECAUSE WE HAD A GOVERNMENT THAT WALKED AWAY FROM CITIES AND HOUSING IN PARTICULAR. WE HAVE REINVESTED INTO HOUSING IN THE CITIES, INTO TRANSIT AND WATER, AND INTO GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE AND IN DOING SO, YOU'RE STARTING TO SEE RESULTS. WE NEED A PROVINCIAL PARTNER THAT UNDERSTANDS THAT CITIES AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEED TO WORK TOGETHER AND THEY'RE EQUALS AND NEED TO RESPECT EACH OTHER IN THE PROCESS. IF YOU DO IT, YOU GET THE RESULTS YOU NEED BUT, MORE IMPORTANTLY, PEOPLE IN TORONTO OR IN ONTARIO OR CANADA GET THE COMMUNITIES THEY NEED, THE HOUSING THEY NEED, AND THE SUPPORT THAT THEY NEED TO THRIVE AND MAKE GREAT CHOICES TO RAISE EVEN MORE FABULOUS FAMILIES THAN WE ALREADY HAVE. I'M STRONGLY OPTIMISTIC AND I'M VERY POSITIVE ABOUT THE ROLES CITIES CAN PLAY BUT THIS NOTION THAT YOU CAN TWEAK THE ZONING AND SOLVE THE HOUSING CRISIS OR YOU CAN DRAW LINES ON A MAP AND ALL OF A SUDDEN TRANSIT WORKS, I JUST DON'T BUY THAT. I THINK WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITIES TO OUR CITY HALL'S BECAUSE THEY HAVE EVEN MORE PROFOUND RESPONSIBILITIES THAN THE CITIZENS THEY REPRESENT. IT'S TIME TO BRING IT INTO HARMONY AND TO INVEST INTO IT IN A WAY THAT GIVES CANADIANS THE CHOICES THEY'RE ASKING TO MAKE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Cara Stern, @carastern."

Steve says THAT SHRINKING VIOLET IS ADAM VAUGHAN, THE LIBERAL MP FOR SPADINA-FORT YORK. HE'S GOING TO BE A HELL OF A POLITICIAN WHEN HE GETS OFF THE FENCE AND TELLS US WHAT HE REALLY THINKS. ADAM, IT'S ALWAYS GOOD TO SEE YOU HERE ON TVO. YOU TAKE CARE, OKAY?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Adam says HAVE A GREAT DAY.

Watch: What Should the Government Do About Housing?