I agree with Mr. Scrimshaw.

Reforming the zoning regulations is one of the solutions. We are seeing a real-time natural experiment right now. Minneapolis relaxed its zoning bylaws effective 2020 to allow 'plexes (duplex, triplex, quadruplex, etc) on lots previously zoned for single family homes. St. Paul, Minneapolis' twin city, did not. The result: Minneapolis got lots of new 'plexes, St. Paul got lots of new single family homes. Rents in St. Paul rose, despite some quite strict rent controls, and there is significant homelessness. Rents in Minneapolis fell, and the homeless problem is much smaller.

But as Mr. Scrimshaw says, that is only one of the solutions. We need more extensive use of prefabs (to minimize the time for construction, and hence builders' needs for working capital, etc.), government loans, tax incentives, regulatory certainty (to reduce builders' risk), a temporary decrease in immigrants, requirements that universities provide residences before they admit more international students (currently at some 800,000 in Canada) and so on.

And no, I'm not a housing expert. I'm sure Prof. Moffatt has many more suggestions.

Expand full comment

Seems that there is a clear tension between effective governance and political success. You have argued that over time effective governance can lead to political success but it might equally be the case that this formula only truly works in the opposite direction. Poor governance over time, especially on complex issues which become widely felt and seen as problematic, can result in political failure. This appears to be particularly the case right now as we have a public discussion space that has difficulty in dealing with ‘wicked’ issues. The opposition is, rightfully, not held to the same accountability as government but it allows the opposition to aim at political success on the strength of simple, One Ring to Rule Them All kinds of solutions.

Moreover, at the moment we seem to have lost the sense of a common ground for debate and discussion. Critics of government at any level now seem to find success by taking any reasoned and nuanced argument, editing or clipping it to distort or emphasize so that their pet peeve criticism is highlighted, even when the statements being made do not reflect that reality. Thus, we end up discussing the distortion rather than the real issue.

Expand full comment

I understand that next to Mike Moffat there are four other experts who have been invited to share their views and the Liberal cabinet retreat. This is encouraging. I don’t think any of these five experts will tell cabinet that there is a single simple fix that wil solve everything.

What the Liberals need to look at is a plan of plans. This is not only needed to address the problem, but is also politically smart to develop an approach that has multiple initiatives. Having multiple initiatives allows for more people to contribute (think disgruntled Liberal MPs) and more frequent announcements. It will provide an insurance if one or two initiatives do not work out. Etc. etc.

It also allows to incorporate the very basic ideas from Poilievre regarding housing. Include these simplistic ideas and build on it. It will complete neuter his political point.

Finally, promote the “plan of plans” shamelessly. Make the Canadian industry of billboard providers great again.

Expand full comment

The housing crisis is a result of supply and demand. There is too much money chasing too few houses, hence the dramatic increase in prices. We need more multi-family dwellings, but also more single family homes. There is a a large segment of the population who want to won their own home, like their parents did. As far as the next election, it is time for a change. The current regime has been there long enough. It is not good for democracy when the same party is always in power.

Expand full comment

My ‘Response is Percolating’ .. as perhaps a ‘series of questions’ (hardly unusual)

What really is your QUESTION here, Mr Scrimshaw ? Properly Stated ? If I could give the the Solution.. What would ‘IT’ be ?

You write/speak of the Flaw & Failure of Binary Thinking - While my pesky Observation & Question for you & estimable Readers is..

Do you not see ‘A CONUNDRUM’ ? Staring Canada & Governance Right In Our collective Canadian faces ?

Are you perceiving / writing of (or blending) a panoply or Vast & Diverse Spectrum of Problems as HOUSING ? Or POPULATION ?

Why Did You Never Read ‘The Upside Of Down’ - Thomas Homer-Dixon ? How rude of me to blindside you with such a question !

Moreso.. WHY did I just do so ? Because it akin to the hoary old ‘Have you stopped Beating Your Wife & Children Yet ? ?’

I agree with you Totally - that a Spectrum of Coherent & Doable Action Measures are Required ..

to Begin to Address ‘The EXISTENTIAL Problem’ of Housing - while using Immigration / Immigration / OverPopulation of Major Cities

as The Tried & True Magic Solution To Eternally GROWING the HOLY ECONOMY

but here comes that CONUNDRUM of - a Corrupted Partisan Media Faction embedded with a Parasitic Political Party

shouting ‘FIRE’ in the Movie Theatre of Governance .. Daily - All Day

& that Only Pierre4PM can Give Us Back Control Of Our Lives

‘Houston.. We Have A Problem !’ We all know the Apollo story Evan - Identify The Problem - Initiate A Solution

All with much of the Modern World watching it all unfold on Mainstream Media !

I do not recall anyone in the Moon Landing Mission - Astronaut or Houston shouting ‘Change Horses in The middle of Outer Space’

nor do I recall any coherent person suggesting Mission Control Be Shitcanned to Safe The Astronauts

I say Again & Again.. (mixing metaphors endlessly) Earth to Evan.. we have a Comorbid Societal Problem

There is no Instant Magic Pill.. named Polievre or CPC.. indeed They & Corrupted Media Are Part Of The Problem

Again I stress .. Corrupted Media & CPC/Poilievre are intent on Running current Federal Governance out of Oxygen & Fuel

On or Before October 20, 2025 & are Deploying Propaganda / all its Tactics - Techniques - Tools to do so

We are running out of time to Extinguish Them.. & begin to Identify ‘The Upside of Down’ how to get there

Keep up the fine work.. & as always, seek out & Follow Exemplars m’man ! 🦎🏴‍☠️

Expand full comment

I have so as a housingvasca human right advocate, a disability advocate & as someone who my self has been homeless in the past. Most of the solutions you have offered up in your critique are all the same non-solutions that the Conservatives & the Liberals have & are currently offering up. Aside from changing zoning, none of them actually do anything. I was justva townhall last week with the Federal housing advocate, housing as a human right advocates, Frontline social service workers and women who have or are facing actual housing insecurity & Homelessness & we all pretty much rejected all your suggestions & we had real viable solutions that could literally be implemented immediately & have almost an immediate effect. It hurts to type because of my disabilities, so I'm not going to get too deep, except to say, that although the Government deserves some criticism, as do All the Political parties at all levels of Government, you have Failed to do any better in your analysis than they have. So maybe talk to the People that are actually being affected by the crisis & the Frontline workers that are trying to help them, before you start criticizing the government, while offering up the same insufficient solutions those you criticize are already offering up.

Expand full comment

Great. Please link to these real viable solutions that could literally be implemented immediately & have almost an immediate effect. I’d be curious to see them

Expand full comment