A new partnership approach between the public, private, and non-profit sectors will bring affordable units to central Toronto. The mutually beneficial and impactful collaboration will hopefully inspire future affordable housing development to help build a more equitable city.

Looking northeast to EVOLV, designed by IBI Group for The Daniels Corporation

During a virtual news conference on February 12, The Daniels Corporation and SunLife Financial announced a new public-private partnership agreement with WoodGreen Community Services and the City of Toronto. This partnership will integrate long-term, affordable, rental living for 34 single mothers into Daniels’ newest residential development, EVOLV, in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood.       

This innovative model helps to address the city’s high need for family housing by “harnessing the social housing expertise of the non-profit sector, the development and construction engine of the private sector, and the financial tools that government brings to the table” said Mitchell Cohen, President and CEO of Daniels. Engaging the three sectors demonstrates an approach that can be replicated by the development industry within buildings that are already under construction or in the planning stage to shorten the time frame for creating affordable housing.

Looking northeast to EVOLV, designed by IBI Group for The Daniels Corporation

Designed by IBI Group, EVOLV is a purpose-built market rental building located at 25 Nicholas Avenue at the northwest corner of River and Shuter streets. The nearly completed building is slated for occupancy this Spring. The 29-storey, 346-unit tower will include 34 affordable units, in two and three-bedroom layouts. These suites are designed to be integrated into the balance of the building—with no separate entrance—to foster inclusion and the ability for people of different socio-economic backgrounds and incomes to live within the same building. Tenants will enjoy access to a range of amenities in a child-friendly environment. The project is situated in Regent Park, a vibrant, mixed income community of townhouses, condominiums in the heart of Toronto, and one that has been touted as a local, North American, and global example of good city planning and development.

Under the agreement, these 34 units are leased to WoodGreen for 40 years, at 80% of CMHC's average market rent. Translating that into real numbers, a two-bedroom suite will lease for $1,270/mo (vs market $2,550), and a three-bedroom suite for $1,410/mo (vs market $3,300). WoodGreen will lease and manage the building’s affordable housing units through its Homeward Bound Program, a four-year program that helps homeless or inadequately housed single mothers achieve lasting economic self-sufficiency.

Example of a 3-bedroom suite at EVOLV, leased by WoodGreen to graduates of Homeward Bound Program. Image courtesy of IBI Group

The announcement also reinforces the importance of sustainable and inclusive communities for life. The City is contributing $5.1M of its federal and provincial funding allocation under the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI) to WoodGreen. The City also contributed $720,847 in Open Door Program incentives in the form of waived property taxes for 40 years.

Mayor John Tory encourages more developers and corporate leaders to step forward and help solve the affordable housing dilemma, by following the example of SunLife and Daniels and incorporating this initiative in their own developments.

“These types of projects are the exact way in which we will be able to achieve our goals of providing better access to good quality, safe, affordable housing for vulnerable residents. Even though it affects a relatively modest number of units, it's a very big precedent to be set. And I look forward to seeing many more like it follow because of the example that is being set by these parties and all the people involved in getting us to today,” said Mayor Tory.

Looking northwest to EVOLV, designed by IBI Group for The Daniels Corporation

You can learn more from our Database file for the project, linked below. If you'd like to, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Related Companies:  Arcadis, Counterpoint Engineering, EQ Building Performance Inc., Live Patrol Inc., NAK Design Strategies, The Daniels Corporation