The City of Toronto will be getting more than 24,000 new homes thanks to a sweeping approval of dozens of developments during the latest City Council meeting.
The four-day-long meeting saw Council give the green light to 24,829 housing units, including 2,060 affordable units and 2,413 purpose built rental units. The approvals also included 775 replacement units, 12 new parks, and four new privately-owned, publicly-accessible spaces.
“We are doing everything we can as a City government to get more housing built, including more affordable housing and more supportive housing," said Mayor John Tory. "We must continue the progress we are making creating housing options for current and future residents in Toronto and the commitments to improving housing affordability and helping those who need it the most. I am committed to continuing to work together with Council, the other governments and our community partners to get much more housing built as quickly as possible.”
Housing was a large focus of the lengthy Council meeting, with several new policies coming into effect aimed at protecting renters. In an attempt to prevent renovictions, City staff were directed to create a new bylaw that would require all landlords to obtain a building permit prior to taking steps to obtain vacant possession of a rental unit to carry out a repairs or renovations. Tenants would also have to be provided with a copy of the City's Tenant Eviction Prevention Handbook to make sure they're aware of their rights. The City will also establish a Housing-at-Risk Table with the goal of supporting tenants and helping to prevent renovictions.
Changes were made to Toronto's rent-geared-income rules, adding two new priority groups. The first group is for tenants currently living in supportive housing who no longer require supports. The second is for Indigenous peoples living in Toronto -- a move that supports the City's goal of providing at least 5,000 new affordable rental homes for Indigenous communities.
Big changes were made to the development charges that builders will have to pay before receiving their building permits, nearly doubling the fees in some cases. But an amendment introduced by Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão exempts multiplexes with four or fewer units from the development charges in an attempt to encourage missing middle housing in low-rise neighbourhoods.
“I am proud of the work we have accomplished in advancing affordable housing across the city in my time on Council and as Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee," Bailão said. "The number of affordable units approved in the Council meeting is unprecedented and impressive."
In fact, Toronto will begin prioritizing affordable units even more heavily. A new program called Concept 2 Keys was also adopted during the meeting and will create a review stream for development applications that prioritizes affordable housing applications.