More info on Weston Village development

The Weston Village developers sent along some details about the homes they have planned at the corner of Church and Weston.

To my untrained eye, the homes look very nice. The smaller homes (Spruce, Hampshire and Willow) are 1250-or-so square feet and start at $710,000. The most expensive homes (Everton, Beech, Hampton and Willington) are about $1,050,000, and around 1850 square feet.

The largest homes are the townhomes. They are between 2100 and 2200 square feet and fall in the middle of the price range.

 

Affordable units assigned through lottery, starting Monday

47 affordable apartments at 22 John and 33 King St will be put on the market between tomorrow, Monday, January 14 and Monday, January 28. The units will be given to lucky residents who win a lottery.

Rents for the units will be “no more than 80% of the average market rent” for at least 25 years. 12 units will be set aside seniors, and five will be for residents receiving a housing allowance.

The federal and provincial governments will contribute $7 million to the affordable units. The city will not collect development charges, property tax, or education levies, forgoing $1.2 million.

What’s up at Church Street Hospital?

Way back in 2018, I was asked what was up at the Church Street site of the  Humber River Hospital (and I never did find out). An answer has come to light thanks to some readers and Frances Nunziata’s circular: It’s a “Reactivation Care Centre”—an off-ramp for acute-care hospital patients, who “no longer need acute care services, but often find themselves waiting for an alternate care facility, such as convalescent and long-term care.”

Photo from Sunnybrook

Our RCC is the second in the province, preceded by the Finch Avenue site that was also part of the Humber River Regional Hospital group.

According to Nunziata’s circular, things are still getting started at our location, and at present, there are 94 beds. An additional 120 will be opened in March.

The Church Street site will alleviate pressure at local acute-care hospitals that are part of the Central Local Health Integration Network. Sunnybrook, for example,  typically has “an occupancy rate of over 100 per cent”; sending patients to the Church RCC will free up beds needed urgently, and give patients specialized restorative care.

So it’s a win-win.

It’s also great news for Weston.

When the Church Street site was closed, many residents were concerned that it would be sold to developers, and that a high-density development would be built in a low-density neighbourhood. There were also concerns we would be missing the chance to develop a public good, like a college, seniors’ home, childcare, or park.

Plans to sell the property were thwarted, at least at first, by an odd legal artifact: 70 years ago, the Trimbee family sold the land to the Town of Weston with the condition that it would be used only for a hospital. The city sought to vacate that condition.

10 Wilby sales going well

10 Wilby Crescent – artists concept.

The Humber, a 22-storey condo under construction at 10 Wilby is now 40% sold according to Options For Homes’ latest newsletter. Demand for parking spaces has exceeded supply (from the original 131) and OFH is planning to add another level of underground parking in response. This entirely non-smoking, (vaping allowed), building should be ready by 2021 or 2022.

OFH is offering a $500 reward to anyone referring someone who goes on to purchase a home in The Humber. Find out more here or in the latest OFH newsletter here.

Incidentally, OFH has some great information on their site about the amenities here in Weston.

Welcome to Weston Videos

I was away for a while last month and missed these two excellent videos on Weston produced by Options for Homes. OFH is currently building a condo on the banks of the Humber at 10 Wilby Crescent.

Both videos feature Squibb’s Stationers owner (and Weston Village Residents’ Association Communications Director), Suri Weinberg-Linsky talking about Weston and promoting it as a place to live.

Here they are in one convenient spot.


 

Rents rising in Weston, Mount Dennis.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Toronto’s apartment rental costs increased substantially between 2012 and 2017, particularly in the Weston and Mount Dennis area. The Toronto Star has used CMHC data in an interactive map which shows that Weston’s rental prices jumped nearly 18% during that time period while Mount Dennis prices increased by 27.8%.

In 2012, apartment rental averages in both neighbourhoods were roughly comparable at around the $1000 level but by 2017, rentals jumped to $1117 in Weston and $1201 in Mount Dennis. While this is still low compared to downtown where rents average over $2200, it will be of little comfort to people who come to the suburbs looking for more affordable accommodation.

The average annual rent increase over that period (thanks to the power of compound interest) seems to have been about 2.5% for Weston and 4% for Mount Dennis. Under Ontario’s rent control legislation, the average yearly rent increase over that period should have been 1.68%. Why the discrepancy? Once a tenant moves out, landlords can charge whatever the market will bear. In areas with more turnover, rents can rise rapidly if there is sufficient demand.

From the Toronto Star.

Premier Ford recently legislated the end of rent controls on all new rental buildings occupied after November 15th. He apparently believes that this will encourage more rental apartment construction. Incidentally, PC Premier Mike Harris ended rent control in 1997 claiming that a boom in rental housing construction would result.

It didn’t.

In praise of gentrification

Me, I’d delight in a little gentrification in Weston.

Riley says that gentrification is “the displacement of longtime residents of a neighbourhood”.

I disagree. Gentrification doesn’t have to result in the displacement of long-time residents, if ‘gentrification’ means an increase in average incomes within a neighbourhood through migration. Gentrification can open more services and shops, and bring employment opportunities, while doing absolutely no harm.

For a thorough explanation, have a look at The Economist article that changed my mind. In short, though: things can get better for everyone without getting worse for anyone—as long as the development is taking up slack.

Here’s how it works: new buildings go up in vacant spaces, and new shops open in empty storefronts. Nobody loses and everybody wins. Average rents might go up, certainly—but that is because there are more high-rent units, not because the low-rent units got more expensive. Average income will go up—because more high-income people are moving in, not because low-income people are moving out.

This is exactly what I think is happening now in Weston.

Does Weston have vacant spaces? It does, and all the recent developments I can think  of are on formerly vacant land. Do we have empty storefronts? We certainly do. A few bank storefronts come to mind. I’d love to see an art gallery, a childcare, or brew pub go in one. If it means I can stumble home after a three pints of IPA and a pork-belly sandwich, gentrify on, my good man!

Everybody wins with this kind of gentrification. New residents live close to where they work, new businesses provide services where people live. Neighbourhoods become vibrant, more pedestrian friendly, more integrated and more self-sufficient. This sounds just great to me.

But it gets better: Even those who live in affordable homes benefit. Crime falls in gentrifying neighbourhoods. Tax collection rises, so public services can improve. The concentration of poverty “which a mountain of economic and sociological literature has linked to all manner of poor outcomes, including teenage pregnancy, incarceration and early death” declines.

Could rising rents result in people leaving Weston? Certainly it could, if the increase comes not from rising average rents but from rising rents at the lower end. I think, though, that we remain some way from that.

In the meantime, I’m entirely in favour.