The City is undertaking a study to analyze current office market conditions, understand the benefits and risks of converting office space to alternative uses, and explore policy options that would balance office needs in the short-term and long-term, while ensuring the City’s economic role remains competitive and resilient.

Increasing office vacancies is a trend impacting large cities across North America as companies adjust to hybrid work following the COVID-19 Pandemic. These challenges have prompted several municipalities to introduce interventions, including financial support for businesses, cultural events, promotion and marketing, infrastructure investments, and enabling office-to-housing conversions.

Concurrently, Toronto is experiencing a prolonged housing crisis that has elevated pressures for residential intensification. In part, this increased pressure has led to development applications that propose to add residential uses above existing office buildings, convert office to residential uses, or demolish office buildings entirely. The loss of office space is typically a permanent outcome that cannot be reversed later if market conditions change. Considering Toronto’s important economic role as Canada’s largest concentration of office employment and corporate headquarters, any resulting policy decision should be informed by comprehensive analysis.

The Office Space Needs Study will include an office market analysis, weigh the benefits and risks of office space conversion, and explore policy options that balance office needs in the short-term and long-term.

A consultant has been retained to support the Study which will be conducted in two phases over an 11-month period.

Phase One (October 2023 to February 2024):

  • Conduct a background review of City and Provincial policies and City economic development related programs;
  • Conduct a background review of recent and ongoing office-related development and current office market trends;
  • Conduct stakeholder interviews with a diversity of office and non-residential sectors; and
  • Prepare a background report summarizing phase one which will be made available on the Study website.

Phase Two (February 2024 to August 2024):

  • Develop short-term and long-term projections of office space needs to accommodate anticipated employment growth under a range of future scenarios;
  • Explore office space conversion, including both residential and non-residential in a Toronto-specific context including by sub-areas and building typologies;
  • Develop policy and program options to address the current challenges of the City’s office market, with near- and long-term outcomes being considered;
  • Present at a public meeting hosted by City staff; and
  • Prepare a findings report summarizing the findings and analysis of the study which will be made available on the Study website.

The Study directions will be summarized with applicable policy and program recommendations by City staff in a report to Council.

The City tracks key social and economic indicators including office vacancies reported via Toronto’s Dashboard.

Reports will be posted here when available.

Motion to Explore the Potential for Office Conversions and Affordable Housing

At it’s meeting on November 8, 2022 City Council requested City Planning and Economic Development and Culture to study potential conversion of office space across the City into new housing, consider what zoning and other regulatory or policy relief may be required to enable economically-viable office conversions and evaluate the feasibility of requiring the provision of affordable housing in lieu of the replacement of office space. More information regarding the motion can be found in PH7.9.

Meeting information, registration details and other engagement opportunities will be posted here when available.

The Office Space Needs Study will include consultation in a variety of forms over the course of the study. Please contact Rory McNeil with any questions or comments.