Several articles have recently argued against smart growth planning on the grounds that it is the cause of our current housing affordability problems. The underlying assumption is that smart growth places artificial limits on land supply and therefore contributes to an increase in the cost of housing. This argument does not take into consideration the full range of factors that are responsible for the current escalation in the price of housing.
This past holiday season, food banks all across Ontario benefited from the generosity of their communities. Ontarians came together to donate food and financial support, both of which will make an enormous difference in the lives of people who struggle to make ends meet. Yet as the holiday lights and warmth fade and we head back into everyday life, we must not forget that this is not enough. In Ontario alone, it is estimated that 770,000 people visit food banks annually, and 20 per cent of food banks run out of supplies at least once every year. In a province that has more than enough food for everyone, why is this happening?
Many families are deciding to raise their children in the city instead of moving to the suburbs. Toronto is a safe and vibrant city, and with house prices both in the city and in the suburbs unrealistic for many parents, condos are an attractive alternative. Right now, a typical semi-detached home in a desirable neighbourhood can sell for around $1 million.
On December 1, the Ontario Court of Appeal failed Canadians who are homeless or living in substandard conditions. By ruling that the Government of Canada has no obligation to provide "affordable, adequate, and accessible housing" to its citizens, the Court sanctioned the government's abdication of responsibility for housing and dealt a significant blow to vulnerable Canadians.
Twenty per cent of older adults live with a mental health issue. In Calgary alone, that equates to over 21,000 older adults, with between 1,000 and 2,000 living with severe and persistent psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia and delusional disorder. These figures do not take into account individuals between 45 and 65 who have lived a higher-risk lifestyle and been intermittently homeless. Such individuals age more quickly than the general population, and often present as "functionally geriatric" well before the age of 65.
The real news in the recent Hunger Count 2014 report is not that 841,191 people came to food banks for help in one month -- a number 25 per cent higher than in 2008. Nor is it the realization that close to 40 per cent of food bank recipients are children. No, the overarching narrative is how the presence of food banks in most communities has come to represent the failure of imagination for a country and its citizens.