The Extent of the Canadian Urban Housing Crisis

by Tristan De Iure-Grimmel on October 5, 2017 - 9:42am

In my article, the author, Richard Florida, explains the new housing crisis in Canada and how it has much to do with other urban problems such as inequality and the oppression of the poorer strata. The heart of the problem, according to him, is the surge of the young and educated in great numbers into the city. This has not only lead to the increase in housing price in our biggest cities, but most importantly in a sharp decline of house affordability. Indeed, when compared with the world’s most costly cities to live in, such as New York and London, Vancouver ranks third and Toronto ninth in terms of housing cost to income ratio. Another survey measured that the housing price in Canada’s 40 largest metropolitan areas ranges from unaffordable to severally unaffordable. Coincidentally, income inequality has also been on the rise, especially in cities such as Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto where it is the highest in all the country. Plus, the unaffordability of the housing has driven much of low-wage working class out of the core and into the fringe. Recent political movements, such as the election of Donald Trump and Brexit, have highlighted workers’ frustration with the present situation and the need for a change in their conditions. Finally, the author prescribes that, to solve the crisis, federal and municipal governments alike must invest in solving those problems. They must address the problem of inequality; build dense, affordable housing and new infrastructure; invest in transportation and increase the minimum wage for service workers to be able to support their family. Thus, the solution is fairer urbanism and more of it.

The housing crisis meets all the criteria for it to be considered a social issue: it is a national problem that affects the majority of the population including the white middle class; there are many solutions to the crisis, some of which the author examines; there is a gap between what is wanted (affordable housing, equality) and what the society is really like (unaffordable housing, rise in equality); there is a public outcry against it worldwide in the form of a populistic political movement.

My opinion on this article is that what is happening is a natural phenomenon that has to do with the increase in the population in urban areas. Indeed, our suburbs have expanded to a point where they are located too far from the city. Thus, by lack of space in the fringe but also out of the efficiency of living in the core have people started moving back in. The increase in demand has led to the increase in price and eventually unaffordability. If my assumption is true, then the flow of people into the city will never stop, as suburbs have expanded to their maximum, making the crisis difficult to solve. In fact, I doubt that the problem will ever be resolved and I believe it can only be slowed down because the flux of people into the city is constant, but also because the government rarely fulfils its promises as fully as it promises. If the problem is to be addressed, it will be taken care of over a significant amount of time because the solution will necessitate the cooperation of the municipalities with the federal government, a great investment by both, a study of the situation and a well thought out plan. In other words, the crisis will likely not end soon.

Works Cited

Florida, Richard. "It's More than a Housing Crisis." The Globe and Mail, Apr 24, 2017, Canadian Major Dailies, https://proquest-crc.proxy.ccsr.qc.ca/docview/1890953314?accountid=44391.

Comments

The following article is pertinent as it illustrates how political activism from the population is important in shaping an urban environment. Unfortunately, often people don't know how to express their political view when few options are available of the options don't appeal to them and when the voting day comes they often choose to vote against a candidate and not for one. The society needs more insight into how it can make itself heard by politicians at a local and national level. The young are especially affected by this new plague of not being in touch with politics. There must be a movement to show people that they have power and that it can be meaningful in the shaping of their community. Political activist societies must be formed on the basis of improving their environment on common view-points regardless of political leaning. Common ground must be found and a united people will make itself heard by the politicians. Open debates on local regulations and proposed bills should be held by municipal leaders in order to update their agendas. It will be beneficial both for them and the people. And finally, young people should consider the possibility of a political career more often if they want to see change the way the new generation sees it.

Hi Tristan. Since I also dealt with the consequences of overpopulation in my summary, I found your article very interesting since it deals about issues we currently experience here in Canada, which I knew nothing about before I read your summary (which was nicely done by the way!). Moreover, I also believe the population of a city plays a big role in its shaping and development, so discussing this topic is interesting to me.

I must say, I strongly agree with you that the housing issue you described will not be solved soon. Due to their excessive growth, suburbs have grown into sprawls, which are now too far away from the city for their residents to reach it easily. As Andrejs Skaburskis explains : “(canadian) suburbs developed to the point where their main purpose of offering lodgements near downtown is gone, (...) ” (Skaburskis, 2014, p.120). Due to excessive population, the suburbs have grown too much and, as you mentionned, people are now heading back in the cities. At this point, it is only normal that the housing costs increase due to the phenomena of supply and demand: there are more people asking for houses in cities, so the prices go up. This is why the price of “low-quality housing is so high compared to the income of the lowest-income households.” (Skaburskis, 2014, p121) in urban areas, which causes many issues for people with less means.

In conclusion, the overpopulation in Canada has consequences everywhere, and, as you mentionned, housing costs are not spared.

Works Cited

Skaburskis, A. "Decomposing Canada’s Growing Housing Affordability Problem: Do City Differences Matter?"Urban Studies, vol. 41, no. 3, 2014, pp. 117-141, http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=11&sid=8099d6e4..., doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.2166/wpt.2015.048.

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