New Affordable Housing, Parks, and Community Services Coming to Ward 10

Dear friends,

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the need for affordable housing, public spaces, and community services in our downtown core, as well as the importance of supporting our local arts and culture sector. These are the services and amenities that make our communities affordable, diverse, and vibrant.

This week I was thrilled to announce progress on important projects in Ward 10 to build new affordable housing, parks, cultural space, child care, and other essential services. 

These projects in King-Spadina and Queen West are examples of innovative city-building at its best: taking publicly-owned properties and parking lots and turning them into affordable homes, community and cultural space, alongside new parks for families and community members to enjoy. 

I look forward to working with City staff, neighbours, and our partners as we continue to turn these visions into reality.

Sincerely,

Joe


Turning a Parking Lot and Fire Station into a Park and Affordable Housing: Update on Plans for 260 Adelaide and 229 Richmond 

Over five years ago, I committed to creating a new park in the heart of downtown, in one of the fastest-growing neighbourhoods in North America. Now, after years of work and planning, a new signature park will be built by leveraging City-owned property at 260 Adelaide and 229 Richmond – along with affordable housing and other vital city services.

This week, the CreateTO Board of Directors adopted the proposed Master Plan for these properties, including how these sites can be activated with City uses.

Right now, 260 Adelaide is home to an aging fire hall that needs structural upgrades, and 229 Richmond is a parking lot. Under our plan, 12 City Divisions have come together to revitalize our downtown neighbourhood. It will include 196 units of new affordable housing, alongside additional market housing; a new relocated state-of-the-art fire station and paramedic post; 10,000 square feet of community space; and a new 24,000 square/foot park. 

This will be the first new large park in our downtown King-Spadina community in over 20 years. In that time, the population of the area has grown from just 230 residents to an estimated 44,000 people when all the proposed development and construction is completed. We clearly need more greenspace and outdoor areas for people to exercise, enjoy, and explore.

This project is financed by leveraging the value of the City-owned land, as well as through the use of Section 42 parkland acquisition funds that are collected from developers and can only be spent on the creation of new parkland.

The project also makes it clear that city planning can be innovative, collaborative, and forward-thinking. The existing Adelaide Fire Hall needed significant structural upgrades. It would have cost the City at least $10 million just to rebuild a two-story fire hall in the same spot. In 2016 I began advocating for the Richmond site to be transformed into a park, and through collaboration with City Divisions and staff, we were able to think even bigger. 

The new park will be an estimated 24,000 square/feet of green space, comparable in size to Berczy Park. The 196 estimated new affordable housing units will be rented at 80% of Average Market Rent, for a minimum of 99 years. 

This project has truly been a long time coming. It was all possible by thinking outside the box: leveraging City-owned land, using Section 42 funds for parkland, and re-thinking how best to use space in our downtown core. After 5 years of work, I'm proud that we'll have a brand-new park and new affordable housing in Ward 10.


Creating New Affordable Housing, Cultural Space and a Park in Queen West

Following years of work, yesterday City of Toronto staff released a recommendation to turn a surface level parking lot (15 Denison Ave) in the Queen West neighbourhood into affordable housing and a new cultural space, both of which will be connected to a new City park.

The City of Toronto has also announced that it has acquired adjacent private properties at 468 Queen Street West and 464-466 Queen Street West (formerly a KFC restaurant and adjacent retail store), for the purpose of conversion into a new 8,800 square foot public park. The park will connect Queen Street with the new affordable housing and cultural space development.

Today's recommendation follows a series of motions that I moved at City Council directing staff to explore the conversion of the parking lot into affordable housing and cultural space. Earlier this year I pushed for the work to be sped up.

The proposal will be considered at the City of Toronto's Planning and Housing Committee on May 20, 2021. The recommendations are for a new non-profit affordable housing development alongside a new 10,000 square foot cultural space to serve the community.

If approved, the City and CreateTO will issue a Request for Proposals to identify a non-profit development partner to build and operate the development for 99 years, under a long-term lease with the City. 

With both of this week’s announcements, I’m thrilled to say that we are one step closer to building new inclusive, dynamic, and liveable communities right in the heart of Ward 10.