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.

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.

 

 

Jennifer Keesmat in Weston

Jennifer Keesmat, mayoral candidate and Toronto’s former city planner, visited Weston this weekend, and hung out with our NDP MPP Faisal Hassan. She also met Chiara Padovani, who hopes to become our city councillor.

Keesmat with Hassan and Padovani

Is this the start of an allegiance? I’m tempted to enquire, but it’s one of those questions I don’t really want an answer to.

Your correspondent has heretofore not been a Keesmat supporter, because he has a long memory and will not forgive her for shoehorning a 29-storey tower into 22 John St, and (incorrectly) papering the decision with the tall building guidelines.

But this is an enchanting possibility: a sharp left turn, a unified front, and a clean break. I’m not yet in favour, but I could be.

Council pauses gas bar at 1391 Weston

City Council has temporarily refused the building permit for 1391 Weston Road. The owners of the property are asking to build a gas bar on the site, and to knock down the odd, round building.

Staff said they needed to investigate and negotiate:

  • “The appropriateness of the proposed use in this location;
  • Traffic impacts of the proposed development;
  • The design of the proposed commercial kiosk…
  • The loss of trees and limited amount of landscaping proposed;
  • Whether there is adequate space to accommodate internal vehicle movements.”

 

 

2346 Weston Road affordable rentals ‘open house’.

The 2346 Weston Road site. From architect’s plans.

Toronto with a vacancy rate of 1.1% needs lots more rental apartments, especially affordable ones.  Very few have been built in recent years thanks to rent controls keeping margins low and there being much more money in building and selling condos. City incentives are in place to encourage new rental buildings. I attended an ‘open house’ last night held at 1901 Weston regarding an application to build an affordable rental building at 2346 Weston Road.

Quite a few people attended but there was no presentation made, organizers choosing to scatter their people around the room and answer questions one at a time. Councillor Nunziata was on hand too.

A typical floor layout proposed for 2346 Weston Road. Click to enlarge.

The development will be a 15 storey building; the typical floor having 11 apartments as in the floor plan above; rents will not exceed the amounts posted below – 2018 numbers:

  • 1 studio apartment – 280 square feet – $922 monthly
  • 6 – 1 bedroom apartments – 409 – 473 square feet – $1,097 monthly
  • 3 – 2 bedroom apartments – 570 – 635 square feet – $1,284 monthly
  • 1 – 3 bedroom apartment – 807 square feet. – $1,477 monthly
  • No balconies
  • Each apartment will have one bathroom only.
  • The building will have one elevator.
  • There will be 52 underground parking spaces.
  • Heating will be forced-air gas and the building will not be air conditioned.
  • Tenants will pay their own utilities
  • Residents may install their own window air conditioners.
  • Rents will be controlled / held to inflation for 25 years.
  • The building owner will get property tax breaks and other financial incentives.

Comments: If we are trying to keep low income people in one area, this building will do the job and fit quite nicely into the current stock of accommodations along Weston Road. In fact, it may even be more bare-bones and certainly less roomy than others along the strip. It’s great that affordable rentals are being built but does Weston have to roll over and be grateful for what is just a modern-day continuation of the awful apartments of the 70s? The place won’t even be air conditioned – in 2018.

52 parking spaces would be admirable for a downtown building with 157 apartments. In Weston, not so much.

The fact that there will be one elevator serving 157 apartments and two levels of underground parking will be a serious issue when it inevitably fails and vulnerable tenants are stuck on upper floors.

Can we not do better than this?

For comparison, the renovated rental building next door has a spacious 2-bedroom 1-bathroom apartment with balcony going for $1300 monthly. Utilities included.

Read the complete set of application documents here.

There was a form handed out at the meeting requesting comments on the proposal. The application reference number is: 18 120119WET 11 OZ.  Email Councillor Nunziata with your comments at: [email protected]

The true measure of any society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. Gandhi.