Toronto transfers Denison Avenue land for Indigenous-led affordable housing

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Toronto City Council today has approved a motion to transfer a city-owned site at 15 Denison Ave., a former parking lot, to an Indigenous housing provider to design, build, finance, own and operate a new mixed-use affordable rental housing development with outdoor and cultural space. The Housing Secretariat will work in collaboration with Miziwe Biik Development Corporation to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find a developer.

The homes created through the project will remain affordable for at least 99 years and in recognition of Indigenous Peoples right to self-determination, council has authorized the Housing Secretariat to allocate up to $200,000 in funding to the selected Indigenous housing provider for the purpose of completing pre-development work including site planning and design work) and due diligence work to help get construction underway as soon as possible.

“Supporting Indigenous-led housing projects is an important part of the affordable housing strategy in the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan,” said Mayor John Tory. “Reconciliation requires actions that assert our commitment to moving forward together with Indigenous communities.

“Only by working together we can help build healthier, safer and more prosperous Indigenous urban communities and ensure access to an equitable and inclusive housing system. Through projects like this one, Indigenous communities are creating housing that meets their needs.”

In October 2020, council approved an allocation of 5,200 new affordable rental and supportive homes for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples through collaboration with Indigenous housing providers and on sites suitable for developing culturally appropriate affordable rental and supportive housing. In October 2021, Council authorized the City to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Miziwe Biik Development Corporation (MBDC) to support the creation of 5,200 new affordable rental and supportive homes by Indigenous organizations for Indigenous residents across the city.

To meet Indigenous housing targets, Toronto dedicated 20 per cent of the capital funding available through the annual Open Door program to support Indigenous housing providers and projects. Additionally, approximately $36.1 million (about 27 per cent) of the City’s guaranteed $132 million capital funding allocation under phase two of the federal Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) was dedicated to supporting the creation of affordable homes by Indigenous organizations.

“For-Indigenous-by-Indigenous housing has proven results in best possible outcomes for our urban Indigenous community. Safe, affordable housing supportive of culture and identity is explicit in creating thriving communities and with the continued support of the City of Toronto through creation of 5,200 new Indigenous housing units under the HousingTO Action Plan we can achieve this. As a community that continues to be disproportionately represented in homelessness and housing issues, the need to accelerate housing development is crucial and the conveyance of 15 Denison Ave. for Indigenous-led housing is a demonstration of Mayor John Tory and the City’s commitment.”
– Lorna Lawrence, Executive Direction, Miziwe Biik Development Corporation

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