Justice for Queen and Close
Skale Developments, a luxury boutique condo developer, is pressing ahead with a new 50-unit residence after a slew of broken promises to a neighbourhood desperate for affordable housing.
The mixed-use residential building was approved for development at 1375 Queen Street West in South Parkdale (at the corner of Queen Street West and Close Avenue) comprising 7 stories and 50 units.
Skale is opposed by a community coalition spearheaded by Justice for Queen and Close (J4Q&C), who point out the developer made 5 distinct promises during the approval process to include affordable housing units, only to abandon the commitments as soon as they had won approval.
The coalition also accuses the developers of a lack of transparency regarding the environmental status of this brownfield site, a former Imperial Oil gas station abandoned in 2003.
In 2016, Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT) attempted to purchase this lot in order to bring it into community ownership and provide a range of affordable housing and other community benefits.
Imperial Oil would only sell to parties who had the fiscal capacity to uphold legal responsibility for contamination that may exist on the site. Opportunities for community ownership and governance were lost when PNLT could not find political or financial support to pursue the opportunity.
Open Door Affordable Housing Program
Skale can still be forced to do the right thing for Parkdale and its residents, including applying to the Open Door Affordable Housing Program.
Toronto City Council approved the Open Door Affordable Housing Program in 2016 to accelerate affordable housing construction by providing City financial contributions including capital funding and fees and property tax relief, fast-tracking planning approvals, and activating surplus public land.
The Open Door Program is designed to assist the City in achieving the goals of its Housing TO 2020-2030 Action Plan. The Action Plan sets targets for the approval of 40,000 new affordable rental homes and 4,000 new affordable ownership homes by 2030.
Open Door Affordable Housing Program Guidelines
Minimum affordable housing requirement: The affordable rental housing must comprise at least 20% of the buildable residential gross floor area of the development.
Minimum affordable housing requirement: The affordable rental housing must comprise at least 50% of the buildable residential gross floor area of the development.
Minimum affordable housing target: The affordable rental housing should represent a minimum of 30% of the total buildable residential gross floor area of the development.
You can find the Open Door Program Guidelines for the years 2019, 2020, and 2021 here.
You can find links to the Council reports outlining the results of the annual call for applications for Open Door below:
Open Door Program 2020 Call for Applications Results (Sept 15, 2020 – Nov 17, 2020): https://secure.toronto.ca/council/agenda-item.do?item=2021.PH21.4
Open Door Program 2021 Call for Applications Results (Nov 24, 2021 – February 3, 2022): https://secure.toronto.ca/council/agenda-item.do?item=2022.PH34.8
Holding Skale Accountable
Even though there was a shift in the guidelines from 20% to 50% to 30%, Skale said again in their settlement offer that they would apply to or access the Open Door Affordable Housing Program. Skale should be held accountable for knowing the guidelines for Open Door regardless of the shifts in the minimum requirement.
Skale's Commitment to Open Door
Patrick Miller, City Planner with the City of Toronto, also said that “In multiple conversations I've had with the developer (Skale) they have indicated that 30% affordable units is not feasible given the scale of the proposal. The proposal has been revised and now has 50 units, so at 30% that would be 15 affordable units.” Patrick Miller said that he will follow up with the applicant to “ensure that they apply for the program this Fall ”.
The Next Open Door Affordable Housing Program Call for Applications
The 2022 call for applications was expected to take place during Fall 2022. Program requirements will be made available when the call for applications go out and will be posted on the website for the City of Toronto Housing Secretariat below:
Justice for Queen and Close (J4Q&C) has been in contact with the Housing Secretariat and Patrick Miller, City Planner with the City of Toronto to determine when Skale can apply for Open Door 2023. Details will be posted on this website ASAP.