Here is how many Hamilton homes need to be built by 2031


Published August 15, 2022 at 12:37 pm

More than 50,000 homes in Hamilton will need to be built within the next decade to help fix the provincewide housing shortage, says a report that also contends that the Ontario government of Premier Doug Ford lacks a “comprehensive” housing plan.

On Monday, the Smart Prosperity Institute released a new housing report, entitled “Ontario’s Need for 1.5 Million More Homes,” which references a commitment that all four major provincial parties made during the spring election campaign, including the re-elected Ontario PC Party government. Smart Prosperity says its report affirms that this target is necessary.

Specific to Hamilton, the city will need to build 52,400 homes by 2031. That is the eighth-largest need of any census area in Ontario, before adjusting for population size.

“Ontario is in a housing crisis, with skyrocketing rents and interest rates on the rise,” Dr. Mike Moffatt, SPI’s senior director of policy and lead author of the report. “Both the federal and provincial governments believe that we need to build at least 1.5 million homes over the next decade to ensure there is an attainable home for every family. Our findings suggest that goal is the right one.”

The report finds that 1.51 million net new homes need to be built in Ontario for the province to reach the average housing supply levels in the rest of Canada (excluding Ontario and British Columbia), adjusted for both population size and age. Moffatt and his colleagues found that Ontario had a pre-existing shortage of 471,500 homes in 2021 and will need an additional 1,034,900 homes to keep up with projected 2021-31 population growth. That works out to a combined total of 1,506,400 net new homes needed over the next ten years.

‘Compatible with our climate goals’

Moffatt  added that the province “needs a serious plan to address housing shortages in” the Greater Toronto Area, which would have a carryover effect to nearby Hamilton. About 48 per cent of the shortage is within Toronto, and Peel and York regions.

The SPI report claims the lack of such a plan means a growing number of families will “drive until they qualify” to other communities in Ontario to find attainable, suitable housing. That, in turn, will  contribute to the loss of forests and farmland, and make it all but impossible for the province to meet its climate goals.

“A housing target is not a housing plan,” Moffatt stated. “While the 1.5 million housing target is a useful benchmark, it is not a comprehensive plan. The province will need to address the bottlenecks to building more housing, including ensuring enough skilled tradespeople. And we must ensure we are building these homes in a manner which is compatible with our climate goals.” Moffatt said.

Balancing climate adaptation and the housing shortage has been a juggling act for the elected leadership of many Southern Ontario cities of late. Recent city council decisions in Hamilton have involved adopting a climate action strategy; freezing the urban boundary to protect some farmland; and passing a plan intended to increase density within neighbhourhoods by allowing fourplex and townhome conversions.

Page 20 of the report details how much of Hamilton’s housing target comes from an “existing housing shortage from suppressed household formations” and how much comes from the “projected number of family formations” as millennials and Generation Z mature, mate and have children. It turns out the former is the larger area by a factor of more than 2½.

In 2021, Hamilton had an existing shortage of 37,900 homes.  It will need to make up the gap, plus build another 14,500 to accommodate growing families.

City council in nearby Guelph recently voted to end so-called “exclusionary zoning,” where regulations permit only single-detached homes.

The current Hamilton city council recently voted to go forward similarly, but not without pushback at city council.

In May, Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson characterized opposition to removing such restrictions as, “So, ‘I love my neighbourhood so much, but I don’t want anyone else to live in it.’ ”

At that same meeting Ward 6 Coun. Tom Jackson had called it “ridiculous” that the city would allow conversions without formal rezoning. (Jackson is so far unopposed in the Oct. 24 municipal election.) Ward 12 Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, who is retiring, tried to attained an exemption for part of his Ancaster ward from the “gentle density” permissions. It passed at a committee meeting, but was defeated by a 7-6 vote at a city council meeting on Aug. 12. (Instead, the zoning decision will hinge on the outcome a current public works study of drainage, flooding and grading.)

Three weeks ago, Hamilton mayoralty hopeful Keanin Loomis announced a “Homes For Hamilton” campaign pledge to build 50,000 new homes in Hamilton, a figure similar to the need identified by SPI. The six-point plan includes a promise to review Hamiltno’s “residential zoning by-laws (in order to) to pre-zone areas for intensification proposals for all types of housing,” while also committing to preserving the urban boundary. including townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, in-law suites, and other forms of housing.

Loomis, a former Hamilton Chamber of Commerce CEO, was the first of the six mayoral candidates to announce he was seeking the top elected position. Former mayor and member of Parliament Bob Bratina, former Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath (who was a city councillor before moving to Ontario politics), and second-time challenger Ejaz Butt, a community organizer and former taxi drivers’ union head, are considered hte other major candidates.

The City of Hamilton also recently sent its proposed 30-year blueprint to accommodate population and workforce increases through till 2051 to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for review. While that review is supposed to be separate from the partisan political sphere, early last spring Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark framed Hamilton’s plan as “prioritiz(ing) anti-growth, and anti-housing ideology.”

Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas MPP Sandy Shaw, an Ontario New Democrat,  responded then by saying the Ontario PCs were attempting to “steamroll” municipal leadership.

Be that as it may, SPI’s report is intended to give Hamilton an idea of how many living spaces will need to be built in the next nine years.

“Hamilton is not immune to the housing shortages plaguing Ontario,” Moffatt stated. “Local leadership and a substantial plan will be required for Hamilton to build the needed 52,400 homes between now and 2031.”

It does appear, though, that Hamilton is not as hurting for housing stock as some neighbouring census areas.

Halton Region will have a need of over 90,400 homes, says SPI. Waterloo Region (Kitchener and Waterloo) will need 70,800 homes.

Niagara Region will need 39,100. Wellington County and Guelph will need 29,600. Haldimand-Norfolk will need 11,000.

The full 39-page Ontario’s Need for 1.5 Million More Homes report is available at

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