After much criticism over its sluggish start, the City of Toronto’s Housing Now initiative is on track to make major strides this year.

Set to be considered at CreateTO's upcoming meeting, slated for Friday morning, a progress update from the agency's Chief Executive Officer Vic Gupta reveals that development approvals are now in place for 10 of the 22 sites identified across the city, with three expected to kick off construction at some point this year.

Among those three sites is 5207 Dundas Street West. Though the City celebrated its ground-breaking back in August, Gupta’s update says that construction commenced on the site earlier this month, on February 1, following the finalization of the proponent team’s loan agreement with the external financing partners at CMHC.

The inaugural Housing Now site will soon accommodate a mixed-use community with 725 new homes, including 218 affordable rental homes. Development of the site has been awarded to Kilmer Group and Tricon Residential.

In addition to 5207 Dundas, construction is expected to begin on two other “priority sites” this year: 50 Wilson Heights Boulevard and 140 Merton Street.

Speaking to 50 Wilson Heights — it will accommodate 1,484 new residential homes, including 520 affordable rentals, 520 market rentals, and 444 market condominiums — the report says that the proponent team has issued a tender package for the site and advanced a Release for Construction of Services application. The first phase of the project is anticipated to launch this spring.

It adds that CreateTO management “continues to work closely with the Proponents and the external financing partners at CMHC to expedite financing of this priority project.”

Meanwhile, revised zoning has been granted for 140 Merton, which will bring 294 new rental homes to the area. The report notes that this is the site that will be led by an Indigenous organization, and the site will be dedicated to housing for Indigenous elders and other seniors.

The proponent team — led by Missanabie Cree First Nation and EllisDon Community Builders — has advanced a formal site plan pre-application meeting with the Priority Development Review team, and the construction is targeted to launch in September.

In addition, Gupta’s report provides an update on seven sites that will be developed as part of the Housing Now program, including sites that now have proponent teams in place (777 Victoria Park Avenue, 705 Warden Avenue, and 2444 Eglinton Avenue East), sites that in the progress of market sounding (Parkdale Hub and 263 Queens Quay East), and sites that are in the final throes of zoning approvals (Bloor-Islington and 1631 Queen Street East).

In total, the City has identified 22 sites across Toronto for Housing Now since the program was launched in January 2019. These sites are estimated to produce over 16,000 new homes, with approximately one third of those being affordable rental units.