Mass timber affordable housing pilot project launched in Toronto




Ontario Construction News staff writer

A pilot project – the first of its kind in Toronto – will create 100 new rental units using mass timber and other low-carbon materials for building construction.

The development is being designed to the highest tier of Toronto Green Standard Version 4 with no on-site fossil fuel use and maximum on-site renewable electricity. As a result, this building will be near net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Through this pilot program, Mayor John Tory says a new scalable, affordable and market housing mass timber affordable housing program will be developed that can be replicated on other city-owned sites.

“The pilot program will demonstrate not only the commitment we have to becoming a greener city but that this approach can allow help build cost-effective affordable housing,” Tory said.

“Using innovative and modern ideas like mass timber construction will help us deliver high quality designs and buildings that will contribute to our goal of net zero emissions by 2040.”

Once the pilot project is up and running, results could lead to a new development model which would add a new way to address affordable housing challenges in the city. Staff will report back to the planning and housing committee in the fourth quarter of 2023 on the results of the pilot program, and, if successful, on a full set of recommendations to establish a new permanent Mass Timber Affordable Housing Program.

Anticipated benefits of the new approach to residential/mixed-use development include:

  • faster construction timelines
  • reduced cost due to efficiencies
  • reduced greenhouse gas and material (embodied carbon) emissions from the housing, transportation and construction sectors
  • optimized density of affordable housing on targeted city-owned land

Mass timber construction is an opportunity to rapidly scale up the supply of affordable housing in Toronto, Tory said. The pilot program will focus primarily on mid-rise development but can also include analyzing both missing middle (housing types such as laneway houses, duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, townhouses, and low-rise apartment buildings) and tall building development through a mass timber form.

“The proposal to turn a city-owned parking lot at 1117 Dundas Street West into a new form of sustainable, mid-rise affordable housing is exactly the type of project Toronto needs right now. We must take advantage of every opportunity to build new sustainable and affordable housing, and that includes unlocking the potential of municipally-owned properties,” said Councillor Joe Cressy.



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