What's Missing from the Missing Middle Discussion? : Affordable Housing Challenge Project

When and Where

Thursday, June 23, 2022 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm


Patrick Condon
Melissa Goldstein
Gord Perks
Marcel Greaux
Jeremy Withers - Moderator


Planning for inclusionary redevelopment of Toronto's single-family neighborhoods


Graphic for the event featuring a banner saying "Housing for all" and "Stop the demoviction; save our homes"

Join the Affordable Housing Challenge Project at the SofC for the next event in their seminar series.


An important question is increasingly at the centre of discussions around housing affordability in growing cities like Toronto: Are we building enough new housing? For many the answer is no, and the culprit is zoning. From this perspective, a major barrier to new construction is restrictive zoning in the “Yellowbelt” where construction is limited to single family detached forms of housing below 10 metres in height (these Residential Detached Zoning areas are yellow in the city’s Official Plan). As such, a common proposal for addressing this problem is to upzone more of these areas to allow for mid-rise residential intensification. Often referred to as the ‘missing middle’ because it is less common in Toronto, this desire for mid-rise forms of housing can include everything between single-family homes and high-rise condos, as well as laneway house conversions and secondary suites. As more of this housing is built, they contend, demand for housing will ease and housing prices and rent prices will follow. As such, the “Yellowbelt” has been held up as an important symbol of the role of NIMBYism (Not in My Backyard-ism) and generational inequality in driving Toronto’s housing crisis. Assembled in opposition to the so-called NIMBYs, are those who identify as YIMBYs (Yes in My Backyard), setting the stage for a prominent “us vs them” / “Boomer vs Millennial” narrative around affordability in the city. On the heels of this activist push for upzoning, the idea has also landed a prominent place in the Housing Affordability Task Force report that is likely to guide the next four years of housing policy across Ontario.

However, for many, what is often missing in this conversation is a discussion of how to ensure this new housing is affordable to a mix of incomes. As some have pointed out, the immediate effect of upzoning in a commodified housing market is to increase the underlying value of the land. As such, without government funding and support, new regulations limiting housing speculation, concerted and thoughtful planning that insists on and enables the production of rental housing, and protections for tenants of existing houses and low-rise apartments, it is not clear that upzoning alone can be a silver bullet strategy for building an affordable city.

In light of these challenges, this panel assembles leaders in the discussion around addressing challenges of zoning for a more affordable city. In the context of a growing housing crisis and a shifting policy environment, this seminar will assess the opportunities and challenges we might find in Toronto’s “Missing Middle”.



Patrick Condon - Professor, University of British Columbia School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture

Melissa Goldstein - Affordable housing policy researcher and advocate

Marcel Greaux - Founder, Affordablii; Advisor, Partna (https://partnahousing.ca/)

Gord Perks - Councillor, Ward 4: Parkdale-High Park

Moderated by Jeremy Withers - PhD Candidate, Human Geography, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto


Instructions for attending the seminar:

Note, you must register for this event on Eventbrite to receive your access password. Password and details to access the seminar will be emailed out 10 minutes before the start of the event (6:50 pm EST).

For accessibility purposes, closed captioning will be available.


Suggested Reading:

  1. Chase, Cheryl and John, Jason. 2021. “Policy Background and Case Study Review for Partna, a Community Based Approach to Missing Middle Housing Development and Management.” Partna.

  2. Condon, Patrick. 2022. “How controlling land prices could help solve the housing crisis.” UBC Applied Science News.

  3. Kalinowski, Tess. 2019. “Why it’s so hard to get housing into Toronto’s ‘yellowbelt’ neighbourhoods — and how experts say it can be done.” Toronto Star.

  4. Popal, Aria. 2020. “Filling in the Housing Gaps: Planning for Missing Middle Housing in Toronto’s Yellowbelt.” Master’s Major Paper, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University.