On the southeast corner of Cherry and Mill streets in Downtown Toronto, plans for new affordable housing took a big leap forward today when MP Adam Vaughan, Spadina-Fort York and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, came to town. Vaughan was here to announce that the Federal Government is funding the construction of 761 rental housing units on what is known as Block 8 of the West Don Lands, just to the east of the popular entertainment, shopping and eating area called The Distillery District, and immediately south of the Canary District developments which started life as the athletes village during the 2015 Pan-Am Games, and which is now a residential district.

The Feds, through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), are investing $357 million for the construction of three towers that will include a total of 761 units of which 229 are affordable units and 532 are market units. The site is part of $117 million worth of provincially owned land that the Province is donating toward building affordable housing around the Downtown.

Looking southeast across Mill and Cherry streets to the buildings of Block 8, image courtesy of Dream Unlimited

Adam Vaughan remarked at the event that "Through the National Housing Strategy, more middle-class Canadians—and those working hard to join [the middle class]—will find safe, accessible and affordable homes in communities where their families can thrive and children learn and grow. This investment is wonderful news for the Toronto middle-income families that will move into these new rental housing units. Our Government is committed to increasing the supply of rental units for Canadians through projects like the one we are announcing today. "

John Tory, Mayor of Toronto responded that "Today's announcement is another example of a great partnership between the City of Toronto and the federal government. This investment will positively impact the lives of many residents in our city and ensure that more families have access to affordable and quality housing here in Toronto."

The developers of the site, Dream Unlimited Corp., Dream Hard Asset Alternatives Trust, Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Limited, and Tricon Capital Group Inc., released a statement, declaring "We are pleased to celebrate this important financing milestone on Block 8, the first phase of a large-scale purpose-built rental project in the West Don Lands that will include 30% affordable rental units. This project has been made possible in part through the concerted efforts of all three levels of government—federal, provincial and municipal—and will ultimately provide much needed rental homes that are well located close to transit and employment nodes, safe, accessible, affordable to middle-class families, and energy efficient in the heart of Toronto's downtown east end. Dream, Kilmer, and Tricon are excited to be developing this complete community, remain committed in the development of more affordable rental units in the area, and are pleased to participate in the Federal government's initiative through CMHC's RCFi program, a National Housing Strategy initiative."

Looking east at sunrise through Block 8 from across Cheery Street, image courtesy of Dream Unlimited

The buildings of Block 8 are designed by COBE Architects of Copenhagen and architectsAlliance of Toronto, and they will range in height from 16 to 26 storeys. Landscape design is by Claude Cormier + Associés of Montreal. 

A Fact Sheet was released with the announcement today. Points include:

  • The project's 229 affordable units will have rents ranging from average market rent (AMR) for the City of Toronto to 40% of AMR throughout all bedroom types including three-bedroom and four-bedroom units. The three and four-bedroom units will account for 45 of the 229 affordable units. All 229 affordable units will be dispersed throughout the three buildings. 
  • The project is designed to achieve a reduction of 17.6% in annual energy use and 19.1% in annual greenhouse gas emissions compared to the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) 2015 reference building. 
  • 30% of the units will be either fully accessible or adaptable. 
  • The RCFi, a National Housing Strategy initiative delivered by CMHC, supports affordable rental housing construction projects to encourage a stable supply of affordable rental housing for middle-class families struggling in expensive housing markets across the country. 
  • Launched in April 2017, the RCFi has generated a lot of interest and a high number of quality applications. This is why, through Budget 2018, the Government increased the amount for low-cost loans provided by this initiative from $2.5 billion to $3.75 billion and further increased to $13.75 billion with budget 2019. In total, the RCFi will encourage the construction of 42,500 new rental housing units across Canada. 
  • Low-cost loans are available to borrowers who want to build affordable rental housing in Canada in response to demonstrated community need. 
  • The average rental market vacancy rate in downtown Toronto is at 1.1%. 
  • Additional information and images can be found in our database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.

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Related Companies:  architects—Alliance, Claude Cormier + Associés, Dream Unlimited, Tricon Residential