Downtown Concerned Citizens Organization

Residents are airing their views on the city’s newest affordable housing initiative

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Michael Robinson lives around the corner from the proposed site in East York for the city’s next modular housing development.

He said he’s not a NIMBY in the slightest — a comment that seemed to elicit a chuckle from members of the Planning and Housing Committee discussing the matter Tuesday — but he’s done his homework and has discovered that this kind of concentrated housing with small units, mostly for single men, doesn’t work.

He said not only are city officials and the politicians set to repeat “past mistakes,” but are wasting a perfect site for affordable housing for the many families who desperately need it.

“You are squandering this site in the name of political expediency,” he said.

“You are public servants … we should be able to trust you to make the very best decisions.”

The 64-unit site, to be built on a parking lot at the corner of Cedarvale and Trenton Aves. adjacent to Stan Wadlow Park, was one of two announced just a week ago to the surprise of the surrounding community.


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The second, also with 64 units, will be located on Cummer Ave. right near to a senior’s home.

The cost-prohibitive units — at $26-million or roughly $203,000 per unit– will be built using NRB Modular Solutions, the new name for Horizon North, which won the sole-source contract for the first set of units on Macey Ave. and Dovercourt Rd. last year.

The first two sites are yet to be done and filled with formerly homeless tenants even though city officials said last year they needed to sole-source because of time restraints brought on by COVID pressures.

Housing Secretariat executive director Abi Bond told me Tuesday the move-in is “staggered” with 36 of 55 tenants moved into Macey Ave.

Some 19 of 44 tenants are in Dovercourt as of March 2.

She added that the soft/hardscaping is not yet complete and will “hopefully” be done by mid-summer for both sites.

That said, it’s full steam ahead for the next phase of modular housing with possibly five more sites to come this year, according to Bond.

She reiterated that $203-million has come from the feds to build these units.

“With the timeframe laid out for us, we are challenged to find sites,” she said.

“We are looking everywhere … we need to increase supportive housing in every community.”

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There will be consultation next Monday and Tuesday for the two sites, which judging from other consultations will be highly scripted using a paid consultant.

It’s virtually the same template as that for Phase 1 — when two sites, costing $20.9-million in total were rammed through for approval last April while most of the residents were in the midst of the COVID lockdown.


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The neighbourhood surrounding the Dovercourt Rd. site — represented by council’s housing guru Ana Bailao — only found out about it when it was quietly announced on June 2.

Like Jon Burns, who spoke to committee Tuesday and lives adjacent to Stan Wadlow Park, there are genuine concerns in each community about public safety and how people are and will be selected for each site.

He made reference to the neighbourhood around the Roehampton shelter which has had to deal with dirty needles, vandalism, drug dealing and ongoing lawlessness.

Bond insisted that modular housing is being confused with shelters.

Each resident of a modular project has their own homes and front doors, she said.

“They’re rental apartments like any others in the city,” she said.

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However, she informed me last month that tenants will pay only 30% of their income towards the $918-a-month rent.

The rest will be subsidized by city and provincial sources, along with on-site supports.

Residents of East York or any other location have good reason to be concerned about safety issues, despite efforts by housing advocates and city officials to downplay them.

As she said: “Those with long experiences of homelessness have been prioritized.”


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