Council approves Mayor Chow's game changing plan to fix Toronto's housing crisis.
This week was our November meeting of City Council. At the top of the agenda: Mayor Chow's game-changing plan to fix Toronto's housing crisis.
Mayor Chow's Housing Plan
Mayor Chow's housing plan was approved at City Council Wednesday. The multi-year plan calls for billions in investments towards purpose-built affordable housing.
The plan recommends key actions for the city, province and federal government to take in order to to address Toronto's housing crisis. These include:
- Establishing a more robust role for governments in creating new homes
- Dedicating more city-owned land to create new affordable homes
- Accelerating the delivery of “housing ready” projects on city and not-for-profit owned land including:
- Between 16,000 and 17,500 net new affordable rental, rent-geared-to-income (RGI) and rent-controlled market homes on city-owned land
- Almost 2,000 affordable and RGI homes on land owned by not-for-profits
- Federal and provincial government funding and support in accessing low-cost financing to get more housing built sooner
- Supporting the not-for-profit and co-op housing sectors
New Housing Targets
The plan proposes increases to the city’s previous HousingTO Plan target of approving 40,000 affordable rental homes by 2030. The combined new target is now 65,000 rent-controlled homes including a minimum of 41,000 affordable rental, 6,500 RGI homes and 17,500 rent-controlled market homes.
The report also recommends that all new affordable homes meet the city’s income-based definition of affordable housing.
Of the overall 65,000 new rent-controlled homes target, funding has already been secured to deliver 4,455 homes. The estimated cost to deliver the remaining 60,545 homes is between $28.6 billion and $31.5 billion across the next seven years and requires an estimated $500 million to $800 million per year in federal and provincial funding, in addition to repayable financing.
While the city is ready to stake billions in affordable housing through this plan, it requires significant financial support from the provincial and federal governments. This is an excellent opportunity for Ottawa and Queen's Park to back up their pledges to address housing affordability with real and meaningful commitments.
I am proud to support this plan. For too long, all levels of government have taken a back seat in the construction of affordable housing, greatly contributing to the housing crises in Toronto and across the country.
I applaud the Mayor, city staff and my Council colleagues for moving forward on a plan to address this long-standing gap and fix our affordable housing crisis.
Supporting Affordable Housing on the Danforth
I moved two amendments during the debate on Mayor Chow's housing plan.
One directs city staff to report back to Council on revisions to by-law and planning regulations to support the rebuilding and modernizing of the non-profit housing site at 1117 Danforth, which will include new affordable rental and rent-geared-to-income units that are fully accessible.
The second amendment asks City Planning staff to report on how these new approaches to building affordable housing that we approved at Council this week can be implemented on Villiers Island, the new community to be developed in the Port Lands.
These latest amendments follow my success at City Council last year to increase Villiers Island's affordable housing target to 30 percent.
City Commits to Waterfront East LRT but Federal and Provincial Support Needed
City Council voted to continue advancing design work on the Waterfront East LRT, the planned transit connection between the future Villiers Island community, other new waterfront developments and downtown.
City Council approved spending $66 million, funded by the historical collection of development charges, to advance the LRT to 60 percent design along most of the proposed route and to partially advance the most complicated elements of the project. This is in addition to the approximately $72 million previously budgeted by the city for this project.
Unfortunately, Ottawa and Queen's Park have yet to commit any funding for this LRT line despite their support for the very waterfront redevelopment projects that will enable thousands of residents to live in the Port Lands.
While I applaud their commitment to these redevelopment projects, I call on the federal and provincial government to step up and ensure we're creating a truly complete community in the Port Lands.
A joint statement from 50 prominent individuals and organizations, including four former Mayors, calls on all levels of government to prioritize this project.
The city is committed to this project and council voted to continue advancing the necessary design work. Once funding from the other levels is received we will be able to accelerate construction.
Read more about the Waterfront East LRT on the city's website.
Toronto's Emergency Shelters Readying for Winter Without Needed Federal Support
We discussed Toronto's emergency shelter system and its winter readiness plan at Council. While the city will be adding up to nearly 400 indoor shelter spaces and 275 housing opportunities, we yet again heard from staff that Toronto's shelter system is operating far beyond capacity.
At Council we voted to formally request the federal government open the armouries at Moss Park and Fort York to provide emergency shelter over the winter and establish a refugee welcome center at Pearson Airport.
I also echo Mayor Chow's call for the federal government to do their part to support the emergency housing needs of refugees and asylum seekers, who account for approximately 40 percent of current shelter occupants. I encourage you to join us.
Visit the city's website for more details.
Council Approves Permanent Expansion of Toronto Community Crisis Services
After its first successful pilot year, Council approved making the Toronto Community Crisis Services (TCCS) into our fourth permanent emergency service and expanding it to serve all Toronto residents.
In March 2022, the Toronto Community Crisis Services launched a 24/7 pilot service to provide a community-based, client-centred, trauma-informed, non-police led response to people experiencing mental health crises.
In its first year, TCCS received 6,827 calls for service and resolved 78 percent of calls from 911 without police involvement. They also completed 2,936 post-crisis follow ups within TCCS's 48 hour service standard.
TCCS's one year evaluation found that 95 percent of clients were satisfied with the services provided and staff have recommended expanding the program to cover the entire city. This infographic provides a useful breakdown.
This is a critical service. Every resident will now have accessible, non-police crisis prevention and intervention tools available to them and their loved ones.
Learn more about TCCS here.
Implementing Side Guards on Heavy Trucks in Toronto
We also discussed the effort to implement side guards on heavy trucks in Toronto.
After the tragic death of a cyclist in the west end several years ago, City Council passed a motion to begin implementing side guards, which help prevent cyclists from being pulled under a heavy truck, on the city's fleet of heavy vehicles. The motion also asked Transport Canada to make side guards mandatory.
After some delay, the work to install these on the city's fleet is underway. Mayor Chow moved a motion to have the staff look at retrofitting the side guards, rather than just requiring them on new trucks.
The federal government has yet to make side guards mandatory.