[attach]4643[/attach]Very soon, one of the most exciting community benefits to the new development known as Emerald City at Don Mills Road and Sheppard Avenue East will arrive. Two new apartment buildings with storefront space along Sheppard will house six not-for-profit community service agencies at below market rent for up to 15 years.
Agencies were required to take part in a competitive process to demonstrate their viability and capacity to serve the many new Canadians in the neighbourhood. They will need to cover the overhead costs for the space they occupy so there are no direct costs for space to the city or the private sector landlord. Each of these organizations, such as Harriet Tubman Community Organization and Hong Fook Mental Health agency, provide programming and services that are needed, yet too costly for Toronto to deliver using city staff. This use of the City of Toronto Section 37 community benefit bylaw allows us to mitigate the impact of the housing development on an area that will change radically as a result of transit-associated increases in density.
This project was the result of a long process of consultation with residents and agencies in the area before the Emerald City planning permissions were granted. As the leasing arrangements are being finalized, I hope that this storefront agency space can stand as an early model of highly effective use of the Section 37 agreement exacted from the development industry.
Further development of subway lines in the suburbs will most definitely mean more tall buildings. This is a foregone conclusion given the mayor’s promise that any new subway will be paid for with private sector dollars. If we can arrange for better service agency space for Toronto citizens most affected by changes to their neighbourhoods, then building more transit will improve quality of life in more ways than one.