This morning, Ontario Housing Minister Chris Ballard announced that the Province will be "leveraging Provincial lands to build more affordable and rental housing" in Toronto. In a small room past a series of vacant corridors and awkwardly configured, mostly unused spaces, Ballard announced that the Provincially-owned lands at 26 Grenville Street and 27 Grosvenor Street will be the pilot sites for what's being touted as an initiative worth up to $100 million.

26 Grenville and 27 Grosvenor, Toronto, by Infrastructure Ontario Chris Ballard, image by Stefan Novakovic

Located just west of Yonge Street—and south of the Grosvenor Street YMCA—the conjoined sites will be "sold at below-market costs" in order to incentivize affordable development. While the finer details of the plan are yet to be announced, the Province's below-market sale of the site to a private developer will presumably allow for a mixed-income project—combining market-rate housing with affordable units—to introduce further high-rise density to the area. 

26 Grenville and 27 Grosvenor, Toronto, by Infrastructure Ontario The two sites, image via Infrastructure Ontario (IO)

The site is currently occupied by an above-ground parking structure at 27 Grosvenor, and a low-rise Provincial office building to the south at 26 Grenville, which functions as a sort of annex to the Government office tower at 25 Grosvenor. While the distinctive 20-storey 'Coroners Courts' tower at 25 Grosvenor would remain, the supporting low-rise uses surrounding it are slated to be removed. 

26 Grenville and 27 Grosvenor, Toronto, by Infrastructure Ontario 3D aerial view showing the approximate site, image via Google Maps

Although today's announcement brings to light a new plan, the sale of the site has long been under consideration by the Province. In 2011, the Ontario Government's arms-length agency Infrastructure Ontario (IO) was commissioned to study the sale of the land. Developed by Urban Strategies, the 'Optimal Use Study' found that a pair of 40-50 storey towers, with approximately 800-900 units, would constitute "the most appropriate development scenario." 

26 Grenville and 27 Grosvenor, Toronto, by Infrastructure Ontario The 'Optimal Use Study' result, image via Urban Strategies

Alongside the pilot project, Ballard touted the Province's investments in "efficient, people-centred housing programs." According to today's news release, Ontario will invest over $600 million dollars to fund affordable housing in Toronto, with additional moneys allocated to repairs and retrofits of existing social housing units. 

In 2016-2017, the Privnce is contributing $42.9 million towards repairs and retrofits of 26 social housing buildings across the city. Ranging in cost from $0.5 million to $8.5 million, many of the projects entail some combination of HVAC and window replacements, as well as new weather-stripping and lighting retrofits. Over the next three years, the City is also set to receive an additional $130 million for housing repairs through the Social Housing Apartment Retrofit Program (SHARP). 

26 Grenville and 27 Grosvenor, Toronto, by Infrastructure Ontario Bill Mauro, Chris Ballard, Mitzie Hunter, and Chrsitina Martins, image by Stefan Novakovic

While the funding will certainly be welcome, the context of the city's housing crisis and Toronto Community Housing's (TCHC) chronic funding shortfalls paint an alarming picture, while the affordable housing waitlist continues to swell. Facing a $2.6 billion repair backlog that dwarfs the Provincial funds, the TCHC shortfall means that close to 600 units are set to be closed this year, reducing the City of Toronto's already limited affordable housing supply. Next year, another 400 units face closure. 

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We will keep you updated as more information becomes available, and plans for the site at 26 Grenville / 27 Grosvenor continue to take shape. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment on this page, or join the ongoing conversation in our our Forum.