In a 22 to 4 vote on Wednesday, Toronto City Council approved Mayor John Tory’s Housing Now initiative.
The Housing Now plan will create 10,000 new residential units across 11 sites in the city. A third of those units will be affordable rentals.
According to the Housing Now plan, the other two thirds will be split between rental units capped at market rates and (high priced) condominiums.
Mayor Tory says this is just the start. He intends to build an additional 40,000 affordable units over 12 years.
“Housing Now will fast track new housing developments at 11 surplus city properties to create 10,000 new residential units,” Mayor Tory said. “I’m proud that City Council has taken swift and bold action on housing today to get shovels in the ground as quickly as possible. This is a direct and significant response to the issue Torontonians place at the top of their lists – affordable housing – and it is a common sense initiative we can take now with our city-owned land.”
Though the vote passed with a large majority in favour, there was plenty of debate at city council. Some councillors felt that in light of Toronto’s housing crisis, reserving only a third of units for affordable housing simply wasn’t enough.
Councillor Mike Layton argued, “by relying too heavily on (the) profit-driven, private sector we are abdicating our responsibility (as) a government to actually take action.”
Layton then proposed adjusting the plan to ensure 50 per cent of the units were affordable and one in five units considered deeply affordable.
The motion, along with councillor Gord Perks motion to ensure that at least one bid for each site comes from a public sector organization was also denied.
As part of the new plan, ownership of the 11 sites will remain under the city. Developers will be granted a 99-year lease. The city also plans to waive approximately $176 million in development fees and $104 million in property taxes on these sites for the length of the lease.