One of Toronto’s largest social service agencies has set its sights on Danforth Avenue in the hopes of housing seniors -- a group that has swiftly and unwittingly fallen casualty to the City's rental affordability crisis.

In early February, a Site Plan Approval application was submitted to the City on behalf of WoodGreen Community Services with respect to 60 Bowden Street, situated at the edge of North Riverdale. Proposed for the site is an eight-storey mass timber building with 50 residential units to be operated by WoodGreen as affordable and supportive rental housing for seniors.

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The planning rationale prepared in support of the application states that 2,677 sq. m of total gross floor area has been proposed, with 2,053 sq. m dedicated to residential and close to 624 sq. m to be used for supportive programming. Indoor and outdoor amenity spaces are planned, at 196 sq. m and 302 sq. m, respectively, as well as 16 bicycle parking spaces. No vehicle parking spaces have been proposed.

Excluding the mechanical penthouse, the development would be 24 metres in height.

The rationale also specifies that, in combination with mass timber, the proposed development would hinge on prefabricated and modular methods of construction.

The site is currently occupied by the historic Danforth Church, built in 1911, which features Roman stone construction and draws from the Perpendicular Gothic Revival architectural style. Renderings prepared by Toronto-based CMV Architects depict a five-storey base to be integrated into the existing 1.5-storey church, allowing for the retention of the church itself, as well as the adjoining Sunday school.

Affordable rental units proposed, danforth avenueCMV Architects

The application as it stands today is the product of two years of planning. In that time, two pre-application consultation meetings have been held to hone the development concepts and sidestep the need for a zoning by-law amendment in lieu of an application for minor variances to the zoning by-law. The matter has since been settled through correspondence between WoodGreen, staff from Community Planning, and the Housing Secretariat.

With the proposed development edging closer to fruition, the hope is to bring affordable rental to Danforth Avenue, while giving some of Toronto's most vulnerable a safe and supportive place to call home.

And WoodGreen is certainly well-positioned to make the proposal a reality. The agency currently manages over 1,000 safe, affordable, and supportive units for high-risk populations including seniors, people with disabilities, those experiencing homelessness, women, single mothers, and families.

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