Mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat came out swinging this week, taking aim at Mayor John Tory for failing to provide adequate affordable housing and proclaiming that she’ll help build 100,000 affordable rental units over the next decade.

"In the last four years, under John Tory, has housing affordability gotten better for your family? Or worse?" said Keesmaat.

“Mr. Tory has failed to use the tools available to him to build more purpose-built rental. With a city as great as Toronto, this isn’t good enough.”

Keesmaat has not yet explained how she intends to build those units.

Tory, for his part, fired back and pointed to the 4,000 affordable rental units he’s helped build over the last four years. But with only 40,000 more units planned over the next 12 years, he may have difficulty swaying voters.

A city-commissioned report earlier this year revealed purpose-built rental prices hit a 15-year high and the vacancy rate is at a 16-year low.

Bosley Real Estate broker Davelle Morrison is circumspect about Keesmaat’s promise, largely because Toronto is in the throes of a rental housing crunch that she believes is former Premier Kathleen Wynne’s doing, not Tory’s.

“I feel it’s misguided blaming John Tory for the lack of improvement of rental housing in Toronto,” Morrison told REP. “I think blame can squarely be placed on Kathleen Wynne’s shoulders. Last year, we saw an immediate spike after Wynne came out with her rules and regulations in the form of the Fair Housing Plan. When those rules were introduced in April, requests for the N-12 to kick a tenant out for personal use spiked in July.”

Morrison notes that rents have increased 11% in the last year, but, again, she does not blame Tory.

“It’s misguided for a candidate to throw shade at another candidate when they have nothing to do with it and it’s all for political gain,” she said. “It was nice if people running for election had real solutions.”

In 2012, Keesmaat became Toronto’s Chief City Planner, and according to Morrison, slow-to-market supply occurred under her watch, not Tory’s.

“She was the head planner, and as head planner she had control over whether someone could build or not build. There are councillors, for example, who are also responsible for the height in their neighbourhood, and they’re not letting developers to build as high as they can. If they could build higher, they would be able to create more housing and prices might stabilize a little more.”


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