Toronto city council approved Housing Now, a signature initiative of Mayor John Tory to increase the supply of new affordable rental housing within mixed-income communities by making municipally-owned properties available to non-profit and private organizations.
“Housing Now will fast track new housing developments at 11 surplus city properties to create 10,000 new residential units. I’m proud that city council has taken swift and bold action on housing today to get shovels in the ground as quickly as possible. This is a direct and significant response to the issue Torontonians place at the top of their lists – affordable housing – and it is a common sense initiative we can take now with our city-owned land,” said Tory.
The first phase of the Housing Now initiative is expected to deliver approximately 10,000 new residential homes (three times the size of the St. Lawrence Market development), including up to 3,700 affordable rental homes with average rents not to exceed 80 per cent of Toronto’s average market rent. The affordable homes created through Housing Now will be affordable for households earning between $21,000 and $52,000 per year.
The properties are in close proximity to commercial/employment areas and transit hubs. Development proposals must include planning for complete communities and new housing must be complemented by other community requirements such as community centres, child care, schools and parks.
The first four sites that will be made available for market redevelopment are 777 Victoria Park Ave., 50 Wilson Heights Blvd., 140 Merton St. and 3741 Bloor St. W./part of 925 Kipling Ave. The remaining seven sites will be made available in 2020-21. Construction on some of the sites is expected to begin in late 2020 with completion targeted for 2022-24.
Housing Now will provide up to $280 million in financial incentives in support of the 3,700 affordable homes including relief from development charges, building permit fees, planning application fees and parkland dedication fees as well as property taxes for the 99-year term during which the rents will remain affordable. The sites will be offered to non-profit and private organizations with a priority toward long-term leases for the rental housing component.
The city will also establish a Housing Secretariat to facilitate the planning and development of the sites and, oversee the public market offering process. To provide an expedited route to construction and occupancy, staff will develop key principles and guidelines for development on each site and, where appropriate, initiate Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments.
Additional Housing Now sites are anticipated as the city, in collaboration with CreateTO, continues identifying municipally-owned sites that can be used for affordable housing development. Additionally, the city will be requesting the federal and provincial governments to identify surplus sites in Toronto to create additional mixed-income communities.
Photo: Mayor John Tory is proud that city council has taken swift and bold action on housing/