The need for affordable housing in Toronto has never been greater than it is right now. That’s why a team of activists and architects have created a development proposal to transform the area of Dundas and Sherbourne into rent-geared-to-income housing.
The only problem? They need Toronto’s City Council to expropriate the land first.
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and the Open Architecture Collaborative (OACT0) want to develop a 22-storey tower in the vacant area that runs across 214 and 230 Sherbourne St., the Toronto Star reports. The residential tower will include between 150 and 260 rent-geared-to-income units for poor and homeless people.
But right now, the property just southwest of Dundas and Sherbourne is privately owned. Despite the fact that there are seven vacant buildings in the space, OCAP and OACTo will need the City’s help to obtain the land and move forward with their development plans.
On Wednesday, the team presented their case to City Council and emphasized the need for this type of public housing in one of Toronto’s poorest neighbourhoods. Not only will the residential building provide affordable units, but it will also offer space for health care, meal services, and community programs.
“The significance of the development proposal that we’re launching today is that it will radically transform Dundas and Sherbourne into a vibrant community, but for the benefit of its most marginalized residents rather than at their expense,” OCAP organizer Yogi Acharya told CP24.
The property on Sherbourne St. was previously up for sale in early 2018. At that time, the City expressed an interest in it, but the listing was quickly taken down. OCAP claims this was because the owners wanted to wait for a better offer from developers, CP24 reports.
While the city has the power to expropriate property, Mayor John Tory told reporters on Wednesday that this “great power” must be taken seriously.
“This will have to go through an orderly process,” he said about the activists’ development plans, according to CP24. “I’m sure someone will look at the Sherbourne Street site as one possibility in that regard.”
The city already owns 11 properties that will be converted into affordable housing units, he added, and they expect to add more to that list in the fall.
Tory appears committed to making housing more affordable. Earlier this year, he announced his Housing Now Initiative, which aims to create 40,000 new affordable rental homes by 2030.
And on Wednesday morning, he announced on Twitter that he and Deputy Mayor Ana Bailao will fund an additional 3,200 new housing subsidies.