Taking aim at the skyrocketing cost and tight supply of housing, the Ontario Liberals would allow owners of two-storey houses to turn them into three apartments and bring back rent control if elected June 2.

The plan released Monday is the last major plank in the party’s platform and pledges to build 1.5 million more homes in the next decade with the help of a new financing agency called the Ontario Home Building Corporation for first-time buyers.

There would be new taxes on empty homes: two per cent of assessed value for their Canadian owners and five per cent on non-Canadians. And an unspecified “use it or lose it” tax on speculators with approved permits who are not building on serviced land to discourage delays.

“It’s getting harder and harder for people to live in neighborhoods they grew up in,” Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said, estimating the plan would double the pace of homebuilding by targeting “poorly used strip malls, land held for speculation and available government properties as sites.

“In 2018, Doug Ford promised to reduce the cost of housing. In the four years since, the average home price has skyrocketed by half a million dollars,” the former transportation minister under premier Kathleen Wynne added in a statement.

The Liberals also released a costing of their platform, which includes $16.4 in new spending over the next four years for and deficits for the next five years before balancing the budget.

This year’s deficit would be $19.9 billion, the same as Ford’s Progressive Conservatives.

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Allowing two-storey homes to be converted into up to three apartments, or secondary and laneway suites, would require zoning reform in conjunction with municipalities.

Del Duca also said a Liberal government would regulate home inspectors and make home inspections a legal right within the bidding process.


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