HousingPublicationsRegional Planning

Found: the Missing Middle

By October 1, 2018 No Comments

Affordably-priced, desirable urban housing is out of reach for many in the GTHA’s current housing market, and the problem is getting worse as the population grows. Consumers are forced to choose between restrictively small downtown condos and detached homes at the urban periphery that commit them to long commutes. Our latest report demonstrates an alternative to the region’s “Tall and Sprawl” development pattern that is easily and immediately achievable.

Using Mississauga as a case study, Finding the Missing Middle in the GTHA locates opportunities for 174,000 homes of the type consumers are demanding, through low- and medium-density intensification around transit stations, along  transit corridors, in existing neighbourhoods and under-utilized urban lots. If transformed into a plan, this analysis would meet Mississauga’s growth projections through 2041 and welcome 435,000 residents.

Missing Middle housing includes low- to medium-density multi-unit housing such as row-houses, stacked townhomes and walk-up apartments. These homes are family appropriate and usually at a mid-range price point on the affordability spectrum.

The method we employ is directly applicable in other municipalities. Using this same approach, other cities can create opportunities for families to live in desirable neighbourhoods close to transit, jobs, schools and services, while helping to protect the Greenbelt and contribute to a more sustainable region and the curbing of road congestion.

But a number of barriers, such as zoning, financing and the approvals process, need to change to favour building a greater supply of location-efficient Missing Middle housing in the region, and encourage greater affordability for consumers. If we want to build the Missing Middle, we need to ensure that our policy changes are carefully crafted to beat “Tall and Sprawl,” which isn’t working.

New family friendly housing in the GTHA has typically been delivered via single-family housing on the urban fringe. These new communities come with increasingly long-commutes as our region continues to grow outwards.

We recognize that building the Missing Middle will be different in every municipality across the GTHA. In some, with an abundance of large sites, we can start with new middle-density mixed-use communities. In others, like Toronto we need to make the most of every opportunity we have.

Demonstrations of adaptations for local conditions are aptly provided in journalist Alex Bozikovic’s latest series in the Globe and Mail that looks at solutions in Toronto’s Yellowbelt, and along suburban main streets.

Finding the Missing Middle in the GTHA is a guide to intensification planning and its application, intended for policy makers, planners, city builders and the development community across the region. 

Download the full report and the Executive Summary on our project page. Let us know what you think! @RyersonCBI