Modular construction speeding affordable housing builds in Toronto

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Modular construction is catching on across Toronto, as council looks for ways to build affordable housing faster.

One year after on-site construction began, a building with 59 new modular homes and support for individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness opened in Toronto.

The 59 new homes will be studio apartments, each with a kitchen and a bathroom. The new building will also have common amenities for residents including a dining room, a laundry room and programming space, offices and a commercial kitchen that can provide on-site meals for residents.

The three-story building construction was funded by federal, provincial, and municipal governments.

“Investing in innovative construction methods like this Modular Housing Initiative means that we can get more affordable, permanent, rental housing built faster and deliver it to the people who need it most,” said Mayor John Tory. “I Iook forward to leading more affordable and supportive housing initiatives for residents across this city.”

With more than 8,000 people currently experiencing homelessness in Toronto, Tory said  modular construction is “a unique opportunity to respond rapidly and create more permanent affordable homes for people experiencing homelessness, while reducing pressure on the shelter system.”

Cedarvale demonstrates the continued value of rapid modular building methods, with on-site construction completed in 12 months, despite a challenging national and international construction and supply chain environment. By contrast, traditional construction projects can take from 18 months to 24 months of on-site construction to complete.

The homes are prefabricated in a factory in Cambridge, and then transported to the site where they are assembled. Modular construction has enabled faster builds, cost savings and environmental sustainability.

The building is part of the city’s rapid response, launched in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to create 3,000 new affordable and supportive housing opportunities in less than two years.

The homes at 540 Cedarvale Ave. are part of the second phase of the Modular Housing Initiative (MHI), approved on April 30, 2020. One hundred homes were completed in the first phase at 321 Dovercourt Rd. (Davenport) and 11 Macey Ave. (Scarborough Southwest). Phase Two includes 150 new modular homes with supports across three sites in Toronto.

“This is an important day here in Beaches-East York, and for innovation in housing in Toronto,” said councillor Brad Bradord. “The permanent, affordable rental homes on this site will provide not only new safe and accessible housing, but also on-site supports for our new community members. This work demonstrates that, with modular construction and local collaboration, we can get people into housing in months, not years.”

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