Toronto is becoming increasingly unaffordable for far too many residents. A report by the City Planning department that I requested as Chair of the Tenant Issues Committee found that rents for available units were over $1,800 a month in September 2017. Rents are no doubt higher now as Toronto’s vacancy rate is still below 1% .
“Diversity our Strength” is in danger of becoming a hollow motto if these trends continue. Earlier this year, I requested a comprehensive, cross-divisional strategy be developed to look at ways of making housing more accessible for all tenants because we are stronger when seniors, new immigrants, artists, and students are able to live in our city.
In the meantime, the City needs to move forward by using as much of our land as possible to build new affordable housing. That’s why I commend Mayor Tory for starting off the new term of Council by fast-tracking 11 surplus, City-owned sites for below market rate rentals.
One of the sites is a former works yard at 140 Merton in Toronto-St. Paul’s. The low-rise building on the site is currently home to SPRINT senior’s services. The redevelopment will provide needed affordable housing in our community, and expanded facilities for SPRINT and other social service organizations. However, this redevelopment will still be subject to a meaningful public planning process to ensure that the built form is appropriate for the site and respectful to the community.
For more information, please see this report.