1,600 sq ft with a basement for $500,000 - is he now smoking what he has been reported to have distributed in the past

By Pepper Parr

September 11th, 2023



Premier Doug Ford has a promise for young people in Ontario: an affordable home for under $500,000.

He has certainly gone out on a limb: Speaking to a  Kitchener crowd on Friday during his “carnival-style FordFest”, the premier finished his speech with a promise of building 1,600 square-foot houses across the province similar to the wartime homes — also known as the Strawberry box houses — built across Canada after the Second World War.

Built for veterans returning from WW II – thousands were built on large lots across the country. Beginning in 1941, a federal crown corporation called Wartime Housing Limited (WHL) built almost 26,000 rental housing units for war workers and veterans. It was a successful yet temporary phenomenon. Six years later, Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CHMC) absorbed and dismantled the wartime company.

The houses will have finished basements that owners can rent out, backyards with fences, paved driveways, and will be built on land made available through partnerships with municipalities, Ford said

And the total sum: under $500,000.

One can only imagine the reaction within the developer sector – never mind the gulps heard in Planning departments across the province.

For continued: “You can’t find a home for under $500,000 anywhere in this province, but as sure as I am standing here, we’re going to make that available to young people, people that are renting right now that have a dream of home ownership,” he said.

The fifteen minute speech was about housing with some divisive comments on how young people choose to identify themselves. It was the Premier take a shot at the province’s school boards, deciding to wade into a national debate about parental involvement.

“Most important is the parents’ rights to listen and make sure they are informed when their children make a decision. It’s not up to the teachers, it’s not up to the school boards to indoctrinate our kids,” he said.

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9 comments to 1,600 sq ft with a basement for $500,000 – is he now smoking what he has been reported to have distributed in the past

  • Ted Gamble

    88% of land in Canads is crown owneð. Sell 5% at fire sale prices to developers of worthy projects or families or give it away by raffle.This will burst the real estate bubble and collapse big government as the inflated GDP & growth tank. Are you in?

  • Stephen White

    Like many who have commented, I too grew up in a 1,200 sq .ft. brick bungalow my parents purchased in Oakville in 1957. It had a 5.25% 25-year mortgage and sat on a decent sized lot. It had 3 bedrooms, one bathroom, and an unfinished basement. Purchase price was $14,900, and the monthly mortgage was $99 PTI.

    Sadly, there are three major obstacles that preclude the creation of these homes today. First, post WW II public policy established homeownership as a national imperative. Unlike today, home ownership was seen as having a higher social purpose; namely, to raise a family and put down roots. Today, unfortunately, home ownership has become “financialized”. The objective isn’t so much to have a place to raise kids as it is to acquire equity, then flip it and use that equity to leverage into a larger, more spacious and palatial property. “Putting down roots” isn’t the priority it once was. No one cares anymoe whether you live in Brampton, Nobleton or Burlington.

    Second, successive generations have heightened expectations. Homebuyers now want all the amenities (i.e. swimming pool; landscaped yard; built-in appliances; etc.). Amenities come at a price, and that price is baked into the price of the house.

    Third, people who live in bigger houses have higher assessments and pay more in taxes. Just look at the size of some of the homes on Lakeshore. Many of these properties are vacant half the year! You could put two or three small bungalows or townhouses on some of those lots, but developers would rather build a $3-5 million palace.

    1,600 sq. foot houses are a nice nostalgic thought Doug. However, it has as much a chance of becoming a reality as your government has of being re-elected.

  • Joe Gaetan

    We moved from a 2 storey property with a large lot and 3 car garage in Tyandaga to a 1,600 sq ft condo. Cost at the time, about $500K. This article and some comments are missing the point to score political points.

  • Grahame

    When my father came back from 7 years fighting WW 2 we moved into one of these “wartime” in Guelph .It was everything a family of 4 needed and we even took in other relatives waiting for the chance to hug one of these homes.N0 Joke!

  • Louise Dufresne

    OMG, love the headline! The electorate was asleep, not once, but twice, when they elected this guy, with majorities at that! No ethics, no surprise!

  • Joe Gaetan

    I grew up in a small village where the local company built what we would call a starter home today. Many of the inhabitants of these homes were recent immigrants, including my father. This approach gave people the start they needed. Don’t knock or, mock what you don’t understand. And yes, tacking on all sorts of land transfer fees, building permits, delays ad infinitum, etc are not helping.

  • Jim Thomson

    Maybe to many buck-a beers?

    But seriously, $500,000 is probably a realistic price for an affordable house at todays interest rates.

    That’s why the Mayor has problem with the definition of affordable.

  • Philip Waggett

    The home pictured in this article is the same layout as one I grew up in as a young boy in East Hamilton (Roxborough Park). Similar rental developments existed on Hamilton Mountain. My dad worked at Stelco and these homes were “geared to income”; we had to move when dad moved up a few job classes at Stelco and exceeded the income limit. Possibly about 800 square feet, there were 3 bedrooms and a small kitchen and living room with one bathroom. However, it was a good home at the time. Our next home was on Parkdale South–it was a story and a half brick on a small lot (these homes are common throughout much of East Hamilton)–slightly better finishing (these homes were privately owned) and it cost dad $9,800 and it was a struggle at first for dad to make the mortgage payments.

    The key point is that these homes were small by today’s standards and the finishes and amenities were nowhere close to the homes today. Perhaps in today’s housing crisis, we need to create more entry level homes. They may be small and without many of the “toys”, but they can be built substantially cheaper. Of course, the municipal government will have to substantially reduce the fees and other costs which substantially raise the price of the home before a shovel even goes into the ground–I won’t hold my breath waiting.

    • L Scott Johnson

      Dougie has burned all his bridges on trust and honesty.
      From buck a beer, to no cost vehicle license plate renews…he treats us like fools who can’t see through his folksy BS.

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