Thanks for responding. As you indicate, supply and demand is just the starting point for looking at housing costs and stock a highly desirable tier 1 city (especially one that’s so welcoming of immigrants).
In regard to the Ontario Municipal Board, it sounds like the question comes down to one of accountablity. The City Council is elected, but who chooses the members of the Ontario Municipal Board?
I agree with your other points in general. North American cities definitely have to start moving away from single-family McMansions and toward smaller and denser European-style urban homes in a variety of formats (e.g. high-rise, mid-rise, quad-plex etc.). We don’t need cutesy “tiny homes” or people living in 300sqf boxes with lots of built-ins and fold-outs, but we don’t need 5000 sqf homes for families of four, either.
From what I understand new construction in Toronto is, like Vancouver or NYC, mostly high-end condos rather than rental stock, so that’s another issue that needs to be addressed. I will say that, compared to major cities in the U.S. that are highly desirable, Toronto takes a more sustainable approach, balancing growth with preservation of green spaces. It looks like Toronto put limits on sprawl as well, albeit a little too late and in a way that increases prices. It also still suffers from the same car-culture maladies that most North American cities are afflicted with, although to a slightly lesser degree.
The boarding houses point is an interesting one. They went away for decades in North America, but since the 2007 crash seem to have been replaced (at least in the U.S.) by single-family homeowners offering garage and basement apartments and poolhouses for one tenant in order to help make the mortgage. The rental rates seem to be slightly below purpose-built rental apartments.
They’re also coming back in the form of co-living spaces, but those are are aimed at either young creative-class types in entry-level jobs in big cities (e.g. WeLive) or intentional senior citizen retirement buildings.
All that said, I don’t think the old-style boarding house for low-income earners and recent immigrants can come back without very heavy municipal regulation. Otherwise, you get dangerous abuses like we see in NYC, where slumlords pack a bunch of single men or women into one-room apartments in old buildings where they sleep in shifts on bunk beds.