Last week, the City of Toronto announced a new development at 140 Merton Street that will break ground, not only literally but also historically, by introducing the first Indigenous-led housing development for Indigenous seniors under the City’s Housing Now initiative. 

Left to right: Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão, Mayor John Tory and Chief Jason Gaultier, Missanabie Cree First Nation.

The City awarded non-profit group Missanabie Cree First Nation the project based on their “affordability and financial commitments, their commitment to community benefits and their experience delivering supportive housing for seniors.” Included on the non-profit group’s team is EllisDon Community Builders. 

140 Merton St. Rendering

The initiative 'Housing Now' is a city-building approach that uses City-owned lands to build affordable housing within mixed-use, mixed-income, complete communities. The site, at 140 Merton Street, will include 184 new rental homes for Indigenous elders and seniors. The location is near Davisville subway station, a few blocks south of the Eglinton station soon to be served by Eglinton Line 5 as well, and the extensive services and amenities of Midtown Toronto. 

The building will be 18 storeys high and will house 184 new rental homes. Fifty per cent of these will be provided at 77% of the Average Market Rent (AMR) and within this segment, 15% will be set aside as deeply affordable (40% AMR). On the ground and second floors will be 2,150m² of community space that will include space for ceremonial activities, smudging, and amenities. 

On the site currently is SPRINT Senior Care, a community agency that provides services to Midtown Toronto seniors. SPRINT will be temporarily re-located next door until after construction is completed.

140 Merton St. - Site Plan

Built in 1959-60 for the War Amps as their “Dominion headquarters,” the building at 140 Merton features limestone exterior cladding with black polished granite. As explained in the Zoning By-law Amendment Final Report of November 22, 2019, the heritage value of the property is embodied in the original front section of the building complex, which is set back from the street with a long walkway to the main entrance and an open space. The project is not expected to significantly affect the three dimensional form of the heritage designated section (as viewed from the public realm).

Through City-coordinated consultations that took place back in 2019, the surrounding community was able to share feedback on the development proposal. The community expressed support for the following:

  • the City prioritizing affordable housing and the overall Housing Now initiative
  • Non-profit housing operator
  • Affordable seniors housing
  • Proposed building height and massing
  • Programming and celebrating and celebrating a heritage building
  • Expanded community space
  • Mid-block pedestrian connection
  • Walking circuit
  • Opportunities for commercial retail uses on the second floor or at grade

The community also expressed concern for the following:

  • Affordability levels for seniors on fixed incomes
  • Shadow impacts on nearby properties
  • Low building height (a higher building could yield more affordable units)

In the final approved plan, the building height was increased from 15 to 18 storeys.

The City recognizes this collaboration as a progressive step towards the Housing TO 2020-2030 Action Plan goals that include enhancing partnerships with Indigenous community groups while meeting the diverse housing needs of seniors.

At the announcement, Mayor John Tory stated “Supporting Indigenous-led housing projects is an important part of the affordable housing strategy in the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan. We will continue to advance our commitment to reconciliation and moving forward together with Indigenous communities. I am committed to making way for more Indigenous-focused housing projects as quickly as possible as part of our overall efforts working with the other governments and our community partners to get more housing built.”

We will continue to follow the progress of this development. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in our dedicated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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