Surplus provincial real estate in the West Don Lands and at the former coroner’s office downtown could soon be home to new developments that will include up to 2,000 rental units.
Housing Minister Peter Milczyn has announced that the province will hand over four surplus lots that it owns to a developer that is willing to build rental buildings, provided that 30 per cent of units are affordable housing.
The lots are located south of Front Street between Trinity and Cherry Streets, north of the rail line on Cherry Street and at the former office of the provincial coroner at 27 Grosvenor Street and 26 Grenville Street.
“This announcement is particularly significant for me as someone who grew up in rental housing,” Milczyn said on Wednesday. “I know first-hand that not every family can afford to buy a home and I know how important it is that those who are tenants have good quality places to live, especially those who have families.”
Two of the lots that will be developed are currently vacant while the other two are currently home to a multi-level parking structure.
Milczyn told reporters that by seeking a developer for the lands, the province is taking the first step towards creating a new “inclusive neighbourhood.”
He said that the initiative is part of a wider plan to divest surplus provincial lands for the development of needed affordable and market-rate rental housing.
The city also has a similar program for surplus lands that it owns.
“I personally am looking at properties across the province and am trying to identify what other provincial surplus properties can be brought to the market,” Milczyn said.
While the province will be handing over the land to the chosen developer free of charge, the city is also chipping in and will be waiving $27.9-million in fees, charges and property taxes.
Speaking with reporters, Mayor John Tory called the development of the surplus land “great news” for the city.
He said that the city is finally making progress on affordable housing, with 1,200 new units expected to be approved by the end of 2017.
That number, if reached, will allow the city to meet a goal that council set in 2009 to approve 1,000 new affordable housing units per year. Tory said that goal had not been previously reached due to a “lack of will” that left the city “falling further and further behind.”
“My intention is to continue to reach that goal year after year,” Tory said.