In Toronto, housing prices continue to rise as reports indicate that the market is strong and there is no sign of a slowdown in sight. The price of an average detached house was reported at over one million dollars as of last June. In North Toronto the average price of a fully detached house was listed at over $1.7 million during the same time period.
A strong housing market is a positive sign of a strong and stable local economy. The downside of a strong housing market is that prices are creeping out of reach for many families trying to break in to the market for the first time.
In North Toronto the financial barriers are even higher.
A newly formed community group, All In, has a mission to bring more affordable housing to midtown. Their mission includes advocating for inclusive communities.
“Inclusive communities are places where people of diverse abilities and backgrounds live in proximity to one another, where everyone is valued, and all people have equal opportunity to excel.”
The group is led by Dyanoosh Youssefi, and the inspiration for this initiative was a result of her experience campaigning for councillor of Ward 16. During the campaign she heard from residents that affordable housing is important and needed.
The group is trying to use a new condo development in the area as an opportunity to build more affordable housing. The idea is not without precedent. Downtown councillors have a practice of exchanging height and density for affordable housing in the core. Councillor Pam McConnell and former councillor Adam Vaughan were most aggressive in pushing for affordable housing and larger units for families, as both saw first-hand how neigbhourhoods could be transformed.
Although there is a precedent, it is not easy to do. Exchanging height and density for affordable housing in midtown is difficult when there are already concerns that the area is being overbuilt.
There are also so many pressures on the existing infrastructure that any extra money tends to be used to improve the community centres, parks and public spaces.
With schools at capacity and everyone feeling crowded, building affordable housing is often not top of mind for most people.
Thankfully, All In has made a cause out of fighting for more mixed-housing options in the area. Membership in the group is growing and the redevelopment opportunities are available. If they are successful, all residents of midtown will be the beneficiaries of their effort.
Karen Stintz is a former city councillor, elected in 2003, and was a chair of the TTC. She lives in Ward 16 with her family.