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Making Housing Solutions Work for Our Community

Earlier this week, I joined a local neighbourhood association’s AGM and was asked what City Council is doing to address the housing shortage here in Toronto. The next evening at one of my Park Pop-Ups in another corner of the ward, a group of residents gathered around me to tell me that they are very concerned about the housing crisis, and what it means for them and their families.

It struck me after these events just how much community concern around this issue has grown in every corner of Don Valley North. I can’t attend a community meeting anywhere in our ward without someone saying I must do something about Toronto’s affordability crisis, and people are concerned about affordability and access to housing at every different point on the housing spectrum. We have some real opportunities on the horizon to implement a range of policies that can work hand-in-hand to truly tackle this crisis. As your Councillor, it is always my goal to work with you to make sure these opportunities turn into real, practical solutions to create liveable communities here in Don Valley North.

If we look at one extreme end of the housing spectrum, we know that it is more cost-effective to create supportive housing options for those experiencing homelessness than it is to rely on the shelter system. Even before the pandemic increased the costs of operating shelters, the annual cost of a supportive housing unit was almost half of the annual cost for a shelter bed. Providing stable housing also makes it more likely that folks experiencing homelessness get access to other services they need, especially if those services are located on-site.

Click on the image to view a larger version.

Finland really provides the shining example of this “Housing First” policy. By creating modest accommodations for those experiencing homelessness and making sure to connect them with a range of support services, they are on track to completely eradicate homelessness by 2027.

Here in Toronto, we’ve started to create more modular and supportive housing to better support our homeless population and work towards our goal of 2000 new supportive units by the end of this year. We need to keep looking for opportunities to create more of these types of units. Not only does modular and supportive housing best help those experiencing homelessness, it also frees up funding to reinvest in other housing programs.

A video from the City showing what modular supportive housing looks like.

The type of housing I probably get the most questions about, especially from young people and seniors living on a fixed income, is affordable housing, both rental and ownership. As I’ve mentioned before, when we say “affordable”, we aren’t referring to government-subsidized units. We’re talking about units that middle-income earners can reasonably afford, which includes a large portion of our population here in Toronto.

I am always looking for opportunities to negotiate affordable units, both rental and ownership, into new developments in our ward. By working together with the community, we’ve created hundreds of newly-approved affordable units, from Bayview Village Mall on one end of our ward to Lansing Square on the other. I’ve also been working closely with the Mayor on his Housing Now initiative, which includes a proposed site here in Don Valley North that will see over 600 affordable rental units built.

While we’ve made good progress, it’s not enough to rely on negotiations with individual developers to secure more affordable housing when we’re facing a crisis of this magnitude. That’s why policies like Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) are so important. IZ will require that a percentage of units in any new development be affordable. While our area isn’t included in the first phase of implementation, I’ve directed staff to study IZ along Sheppard Avenue. Their report will come back at the end of this year, and will mark another step towards creating more affordable housing in our neighbourhoods.

We have another great opportunity on the horizon to create more affordable housing options in our communities. Staff are hard at work on the Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods (EHON) initiative, which looks a range of low-density housing types like garden suites, duplexes, triplexes, and low-rise apartments. This is often referred to as “missing middle” housing, and helps create a more diverse range of options in neighbourhoods that would otherwise be unaffordable to many.

I’ve been getting more and more questions about this type of housing lately, especially from seniors who are looking to downsize but want to stay in their neighbourhood and people hoping to create a unit for a parent or other family member to live nearby. I’m eagerly waiting to see staff’s recommendations on this initiative, and will be sure to update you through this E-Blast after we consider them at our City Council meeting next month.

A drawing of what Garden Suites could look like next to different types of housing.

Whenever we look at solutions like all of the ones I’ve mentioned above, we cannot implement them without good community planning. We need to make sure that any plan to add more housing options in our neighbourhoods takes into consideration the needs of both current and future residents. The investment of neighbours in these solutions is key to making sure the housing options available to us are implemented well.

While I wish that the City could tackle the housing crisis on our own, the reality is that we need to work with every level of government, and especially the Province, to truly address this crisis. We need the help of the Province to make sure Toronto has the funding tools it needs to properly invest not just in affordable housing, but also the roads, transit, and parks we need to go along with it. We also need more investments in schools to accommodate the growing populations in our neighbourhoods. Allowing the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to collect development charges to help fund new schools (which is already allowed for the Toronto Catholic District School Board) would be a good start. We need to see action from the Province on these key pieces so that the City can make housing more affordable while keeping our neighbourhoods liveable.

If you aren’t worried about affordable housing for yourself, I would bet good money that you’re worried about affordable housing for your loved ones, whether that be your children, grandchildren, parents, or siblings. I want to hear about your concerns and make sure we’re addressing them, so come out to community meetings, respond to this E-Blast, and give my office a call. By working together, we can turn these opportunities into solutions that will create affordable, liveable neighbourhoods here in Don Valley North for generations to come.


Planning & Development Updates

Prepared by Tom Gleason, Chief of Staff

Coming to North York Community Council – June 28, 2022

10 Ruddington Drive

Novi Properties has filed an Ontario Land Tribunal appeal for this application. As a result, City Planning and City Legal have written a Request for Directions report that recommends Council direct City staff to attend in opposition to the application in its current form: a 14-storey rental apartment building with 182 residential units on the west side of the site and a 10-storey condominium apartment building with 127 residential units on the east side of the site. In the report, City Planning outlines a number of issues, including but not limited to built form, setbacks/site organization, parkland, servicing, tree preservation, and transportation impacts.

As part of the OLT appeal process, the City will continue conversations with Novi Properties to address these issues, including looking at alternative building forms for the condo building on the eastern side of the site. The full Request for Directions report can be viewed here. An Ontario Land Tribunal Case Management Conference ("CMC") is scheduled for July 11, 2022.

1181 Sheppard Avenue East

Concord Adex has filed an Ontario Land Tribunal appeal for this application. As a result, City Planning and City Legal have written a Request for Directions report that recommends Council direct City staff to attend in opposition to the application in its current form: a 22-storey office tower and a 33-storey residential tower with 452 residential units connected by a 5-storey podium. In the report, City Planning outlines a number of issues, including but not limited to height, massing, parkland, phasing of the residential vs office tower, transportation impacts, and proper transit integration.

As part of the OLT appeal process, the City will continue conversations with Concord to address these issues and the necessity for any future building to have a direct connections to Leslie Station and the soon to be relocated Oriole GO station. The full Request for Directions report can be viewed here.

Interested parties can submit their feedback on either of the above items via email by clicking the report links above and clicking "Submit Comments" button at the top of the page.

Ultimately, the Ontario Land Tribunal is now the decision-making authority for these proposals. Residents interested in learning more about participating in the Ontario Land Tribunal process can access the Tribunal's own guide for participation here.

1001 Sheppard Avenue East (Block 7)

A revised development application from Concord Adex at 1001 Sheppard Ave E (on the south side of Sheppard, immediately east of Bessarion Station), is proposing to revise the current OMB-approved plan for two eight-storey towers with a 24-storey west tower and a 29-storey east tower atop a 6-storey podium with a total 686 residential dwelling units. The site is currently the location of the Concord Adex sales centre. The Preliminary Report, which outlines the application and only requests for City Planning to come out to consult with the community, is available here. The meeting is currently anticipated to happen later this year, after the election blackout period.

For questions on the specifics of the application, you may contact the City's Planner reviewing the application directly:

1800 Sheppard Avenue East (Fairview Mall)

As Shelley wrote about back in April, a new development application from the mall owner, Cadillac Fairview, is proposing a multi-phased redevelopment of the existing site which includes a total of 12 new buildings, with height ranges between 18- and 58-storeys, 7,840 square metres of parkland dedication, a multi-use trail, new public and private streets, and a total of approximately 4,700 residential dwelling units. The existing CF Fairview Mall would be retained. The Preliminary Report, which outlines the application and only requests for City Planning to come out to consult with the community, is available here.

When this application was first received, Shelley made the following statement:

"Last week, Cadillac Fairview announced that our own Fairview Mall will be the latest to follow a growing trend in Toronto and North America: the redevelopment of shopping centre parking lots into mixed use and residential buildings. Similar projects are already underway at Yorkdale, Sherway Gardens, Cloverdale and Galleria malls. Don Valley North is no stranger to this sort of development. Bayview Village Mall had its own master plan approved by the Ontario Land Tribunal back in 2020. All these projects are a reflection of the changing economics of shopping centres. In order to sustain and continue to attract major stores, malls are looking to bring more residents on-site and create community hubs. Even now, Fairview Mall is a key community, economic, and transportation hub for our community, supporting thousands of jobs and tens of thousands of transit riders daily. Any proposed development plan needs to acknowledge this reality and engage the community in envisioning how the redevelopment can best support the needs of current and future residents. As Toronto continues to grow, especially around key locations like Don Mills subway station, we need to work collaboratively and creatively to build strong, transit-oriented communities with built-in community assets like greater local job opportunities, community spaces, expanded libraries, child care, and parks. But this work can't be done without the community. That's where you and I come in to work together. Over the coming months and years, I hope you will join me and City Planning in this process. In July, we will have the first of many community meetings to shape the future of this important site for decades to come. Be sure to reach out to my office if you'd like regular updates on this project in particular."

The meeting is currently being scheduled for July 11, 2022. Notices will be mailed out by the City Clerk and we will include the registration details for the virtual meeting in a future E-Blast. Given the significance of this application for our community, attendance at this meeting is strongly encouraged.

Should you have any questions about the process for this application or wish to sign-up for site-specific updates, please don't hesitate to be in touch. For questions on the specifics of the application, you may contact the City's Planner reviewing the application directly:

Committee of Adjustment – Survey on Public Participation in Hearings

In 2021, City Council directed City Planning to conduct a review of the Committee of Adjustment. The goal of the review is to identify recommendations to improve the effective participation of both the public and applicants in the public hearing process. Members of the public are invited to provide feedback on participation at the Committee of Adjustment through the following survey:

The survey is open until June 30, 2022. The survey is designed for residents who have participated in a Committee of Adjustment hearing either in support or opposition to an application.

Once this review is complete, the City Planning Division will report on the recommendations to the Planning and Housing Committee.


Upcoming Vaccine Clinics in Don Valley North

Parkway Forest Community Centre (55 Forest Manor Rd.) &

Oriole Community Centre (2975 Don Mills Rd. W.)

North York General Hospital is running two walk-in vaccine clinics in our area in June:

  • Parkway Forest Community Centre every Wednesday (4:00 - 7:30 PM)

  • Oriole Community Centre every Thursday (4:00 - 7:30 PM)

First, second, third, and fourth doses are available for those eligible. For more information, visit the link below:


Meet Jean Probyn and her grandson, Matthew McCarvell, our Don Valley Northerners of the week!

Jean is the Volunteer Chair for the Bayview Village Association, and can always be seen at BVA events keeping morale high and making sure volunteers feel more connected to the neighbourhood. Matthew is an ever-present volunteer with the BVA, and is always willing to lend a helping hand to better the community, whether that’s planting trees or helping neighbours with their shredding. Thank you, Jean and Matthew, for promoting volunteerism in your neighbourhood and helping make every community event you participate in such a success.

Nominate a Neighbour! Do you know someone in your neighbourhood who makes a difference? Nominate them for Don Valley Northerner of the Week! To submit a nomination, please send a short blurb (~100 words) about the person you are nominating to My team will contact you if we select your nominee as Don Valley Northerner of the Week!


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