Ontario Construction News staff writer
Toronto council has unanimously approved creating 971 new affordable rental homes in 15 developments through the Open Door Program (ODP).
ODP is designed to accelerate affordable housing construction by providing a range of incentives from the City, which could include an exemption of fees, charges or property tax; capital funding; the fast-tracking of planning approvals; and activating surplus public land. Approved projects must begin construction within three years of the date of approval in order to maintain access to the capital grant and/or incentives.
“We are doing everything we can as a municipal government to support the creation of new affordable housing so that everyone who wants to call Toronto home has a place to live,” said Mayor John Tory.
“These new developments will also help create more inclusive, mixed-income communities in neighbourhoods across the city as envisioned in the Action Plan.”
Eleven of the 15 approved affordable housing developments are led by non-profit housing providers, and of these, three are Indigenous groups. The homes will be affordable for a minimum period of 40 years, and in many cases, in perpetuity.
Council also approved key changes to the ODP, including a simplified, streamlined and continuous application process throughout the year, rather than only during a set period.
The annual call for applications will continue for non-profit and private sector developments that require capital funding rather than only Open Door incentives. Other updates to the ODP will be implemented in 2021, based on industry feedback, including, a simplified process for planning fee relief for non-profit groups, and a 30 per cent affordable gross floor area target of the overall development.
These changes address the following objectives:
- increasing the number of affordable homes approved
- providing greater support to the non-profit housing sector
- aligning the ODP with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) programs so that ODP projects are better able to secure federal financial support