June City Council Recap

Toronto City Council held another lively meeting on June 26 and 27. The agenda included governance and operations reviews of both Sankofa Square and Moss Park Arena, as well as several items that addressed housing affordability and homelessness. 

What’s New in Toronto Centre 

  • 734 new housing units were approved at 135 Isabella Street including 80 rental replacement units;
  • 621 new housing units were approved at 239-255 Dundas Street East, including 11 rental replacement units;
  • We laid the groundwork for permit parking in Regent Park to create parking solutions for residents impacted by revitalization;
  • Pedestrian safety will be enhanced at Queen Street East and George Street with a pedestrian crossing;
  • An seasonal outdoor patio was approved at 460 Adelaide Street East;
  • The Moss Park Arena Board will immediately review opportunities to enhance equitable access to Arena programming as we await a transition plan to change the governance of the Moss Park Arena from a Board of Management to a City operated arena; and 
  • The Sankofa Square Board will develop a multi-year Strategic Plan that will guide the rebranding and revitalization of Sankofa Square.

The City’s Encampment Approach and Strategy 

To address the ongoing challenge of encampments across the city, Toronto Shelter and Support Services (TSSS) has updated their Interdivisional Protocol for Encampments. The root causes underlying the homelessness and housing crisis we are experiencing will not be solved overnight. However, it is important that we also look for short-term solutions that will provide shelter for people who are encamped and  improve access to our public parks. That’s why I moved an amendment directing TSSS to prioritize the development of immediate rapid shelter program models, including exploring the use of micro-shelters and vacant or under-utilized City-owned lands. 

In addition to adopting the Interdivisional Protocol for Encampments, City Council has also made and reiterated a number of requests to the Federal and Provincial governments for more support to address homelessness, including: 

  • The establishment and implementation of an intergovernmental and cross-departmental strategy for large scale asylum seeker arrivals and the immediate opening of a regional reception centre and interim housing strategy;
  • Fulfillment of the Provincial cost-matching requirement to secure 2024 federal budget funding to address the urgent issue of encampments and unsheltered homelessness; and 
  • Provision of a Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit allocation in 2024/25 of $54 million to enable 300 households to move out of homelessness each month into permanent housing and relieve pressure on the City's emergency shelter system. 

Renovictions Policy Implementation 

With a deep understanding of the homelessness and housing affordability crisis we are facing across the city, I was proud to support the development of a Renovictions Bylaw for Toronto. Learning from the City of Hamilton’s Renovation Licence and Tenant Relocation Bylaw, Toronto’s Renovictions Bylaw would aim to protect both tenants and the affordable rental housing market by putting safeguards in place to prevent illegitimate evictions and bolstering education around tenant rights and support. We will receive a report to the Planning and Housing Committee on October 30, 2024 with a proposed renovictions bylaw and operational framework to implement the bylaw.

Launching the Rental Housing Supply Program 

The City’s Open Door affordable housing initiative has provided funding and incentives to support the development of over 21,000 affordable rental homes since it began in 2016. As we grapple with evolving housing challenges, City Council has approved the new Rental Housing Supply Program, which will replace Open Door and support City Council’s new target for 65,000 rent-controlled homes. As an immediate action, the City will be allocating up to $350 million dollars in funding to expedite the construction of nearly 6000 new rental homes, including over 2600 affordable units. 

The City is doing what we can to expand the supply of rental housing units but we cannot take on this work alone. As we seek intergovernmental support, City Council has made the following requests of both the provincial and federal governments: 

  • Urgent allocation of land to develop new purpose-built affordable, rent-controlled and rent-geared-to-income homes;
  • Requirement that as part of any future federal or provincial land offerings, at least 30% of the gross floor area be allocated for affordable housing for 99 years;
  • Collaboration on the Canada Builds program 

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