As Toronto continues to struggle to offer an adequate supply of affordable housing, changes have been made to a proposed local development, ultimately resulting in a decrease in the total number of affordable housing units planned for the project.
Just under three years ago, Toronto City council approved the creation of 72 new affordable rental homes at CreateTO's 4620 Eglinton Avenue West and 250 Wincott Drive development in Etobicoke from Trinity Group for a period of twenty-five years through the City's Open Door affordable housing program. The proposed buildings were 16 and 22 storeys in height, containing a total of 671 units.
However, updated plans for the project show that the buildings will only have room for 54 affordable homes, a loss of 18 Open Door units from the original proposal.
According to HousingNowTO, the loss of the new affordable housing units in the development is "directly related to the dramatic loss of height and density" in the revised proposal. The two buildings are now proposed to rise 13 and 11-storeys, containing 587 total units.
Mark Richardson, Technical Lead with HousingNowTO, told STOREYS, "this loss of units is a repeating situation on the City’s Open Door program sites for new affordable-housing developments in mixed-income buildings."
In an open letter to Etobicoke York Community Council, Richardson said the recurring problem of the number of affordable housing units proposed in the initial Open Door approvals by City council gets cut down during the negotiation and approval process with the City Planning department, local residents’ associations, and local councillors.
"It's especially bad on sites in the inner suburbs near transit, like today’s example in Etobicoke -- and as was the case near Guildwood GO station in Scarborough a few years ago," Richardson told STOREYS.
"However, it happens in almost every neighbourhood. We also lost 26 units of new affordable housing from another Open Door program site last month in downtown near a subway station," said Richardson, explaining that this was due to pressure from local residents’ groups over a "very minor" shadow that would form above a neighbouring park.
In the letter, HousingNowTO noted that while the loss of the building's height, density, and new affordable housing units on the City-owned land running along the new multi-billion Eglinton West LRT extension might please local groups like the Friends of Silver Creek and the Richmond Gardens Ratepayers and Residents Association (RGRRA), the housing group said this is "frankly an embarrassment for the rest of our city."
"If City council is any way serious about meeting its target of creating '40,000 new units of affordable housing by 2030' -- then it is going to have to stop giving local Ratepayers and Residents Associations a privileged place at the planning table," reads the letter.
"Transit-oriented communities need to be allowed the height and density to make the affordable-housing development math work and City councillors need to ensure that every ward and every neighbourhood in the city is delivering on new affordable-housing targets."
Soon after HousingNowTO shared its letter, Friends of Silver Creek, a volunteer group advocating for green space and social community benefits, responded on Twitter and said, "You have it wrong. Friends of Silver Creek are not opposed to affordable housing. We have our own battles for getting community space and parkland. You should get informed."
In response, HousingNowTO said, "respectfully, your own letter today says: 'Friends of Silver Creek support this design with the lowered heights and density,' that is what we take issue with, as that choice has resulted in the loss of 18 affordable housing units."
Friends of Silver Creek since responded and said, "Again, you should get informed. A responsible plan should benefit the community directly where the intensification is happening in addition to providing parkland, infrastructure to manage the growing population with affordable housing is what we support."
STOREYS reached out to Friends of Silver Creek for comment but had not heard back at the time of publication.