Don’t “Skale” Back on Affordable Housing 

Skale Developments, DON'T “SKALE” BACK on Affordable Housing in Parkdale: Skale Developments' 5 broken promises to embed affordable housing in their new fifty-unit mixed-use building at 1375 Queen St. West.

Skale first made a promise for affordable housing at the in-person pre-application meeting in February 2020. They said they would “provide 20% affordable rental units”.

Skale Developments submitted an application to redevelop the site in March 2020 that called for an eight-storey mixed use building comprised of 46 rental dwelling units. The planning rationale stated “currently, the owner is contemplating the provision of 20% of the proposed rental units as “affordable” units, however, this is still to be confirmed as the application moves forward.” This was the second time Skale made a promise for affordable housing. 

During their mandatory community consultation in September 2020, Skale stated they would “provide a variety of rental housing units” and “provide 20% affordable rental units through the City’s “Open Door Affordable Housing Program.” They also claimed they would “provide a variety of unit types including larger family units.” This was the third time Skale made a promise for affordable housing.

As a result of the City not making a decision on the development application within the legislated 90-day timeframe, on November 19, 2020 Skale appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). Rather than go through a tribunal process, over the course of fall-winter 2021-2022, Skale Developments and the City reached a settlement agreement. During this process, Skale's legal and land use planning representatives indicated there would be affordable housing in the development two more times. These statements from land use professionals indicating there would be affordable housing onsite influenced the outcome of the zoning bylaw amendment and the ability for Skale to develop 1375 Queen Street West. 

In a without prejudice settlement offer to the City, Goodman's LLP partner David Bronskill stated that "our client is prepared to work with the City of Toronto to apply to, or otherwise access, the City’s Open Door Affordable Housing Program to determine if there are opportunities for affordable housing units as part of the development”. This was the fourth time Skale made a promise for affordable housing. 

MacNaughton Hermsen Britton Clarkson Planning (MHBC Planning) partner David McKay also made statements to the OLT that Skale "will work with the City to determine if there are opportunities for affordable housing units as part of the proposed development" and that "the proposed development would fit in with the character of the area and provide rental housing and commercial services that will service the local community". This was the fifth time Skale made a promise for affordable housing. 

City Council approved Agenda Item TE29.6 on December 15, 2021 without amendments and without debate. This means that Skale Developments is building their development which is 50 units. 

Within this process, they have managed to evade any legal commitment to building affordable housing. 

Don’t “Skale” Back on Safe and Healthy Housing 

Skale Developments, DON'T “SKALE” BACK on Safe and Healthy Housing in Parkdale: Skale Developments fail to submit required environmental reports and have provided ZERO information about how they will clean up any contamination left behind by the previous gas station. 

Many long-time community members remember the old gas station and 7-Eleven that were previously on this site before it was left vacant for more than two decades. Many community members understand the ways low-income working-class racialized neighborhoods become sites of institutional disinvestment and places of systemic environmental racism, where toxic waste is left to accumulate and threaten the health of the community for the sake of capturing increasing profits. Case in point, Imperial Oil ‘purchased this site’ in Nov 1920 for $1 and sold it for $1.9 million dollars in 2020. 

Not everyone knows, however, that 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, the lot owners, would only sell to parties who had the fiscal capacity to uphold legal responsibility for all past, present, and future 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. It is appalling to see that Imperial Oil cited environmental responsibility as a reason not to sell to the Land Trust when Skale Developers have failed to publicly address possible contamination nor demonstrated any concern for community wellbeing in light of the potential contamination and health risks.

Skale Developments is obligated to submit and make publicly available environmental assessments and other related environmental reports that outline all environmental remediations that have been ordered and/or recommended. Environmental remediation refers to the removal of pollution or contaminants from soil, groundwater, sediment, surface water, and other forms of environmental media. Remedial action is usually subject to a range of regulatory requirements, and may also be based on assessments of human health and ecological risks where no legislative standards exist, or where standards are advisory. The Justice for Queen and Close community coalition demands Skale Developments uphold clear environmental monitoring and reporting mechanisms. The deceptive and bad faith manner in which Skale Developments has bamboozled the Parkdale community through false promises of affordable housing to gain a development approval makes their silence and omissions concerning the potential contamination on this site particularly worrisome. 

Skale Developments has failed to submit the required environmental reports. The Contamination Site Assessment report required by the City is not listed in the application materials submitted on the development application portal, nor have we found a reference to it in the environmental reports submitted. 

Skale Developments has failed to make environmental assessment reports publicly available. While the environmental assessment report was named in the Hydrogeological and Geotechnical report, the assessment itself is not publicly available. 

Skale Developments is creating a cloak of confusion around any potential contamination on this site. Despite this site being a well-known gas station for many decades, Skale Developments' application package does not include information about potential contamination and remediation ordered or recommended. Adding insult to injury, Skale has only opted into the mandatory tier 1 requirement, out of a possible 4 tier system of the Toronto Green Standards checklist. We implore Skale Developments to temper their greed, pursue full environmental remediation, and build robust transparency and accountable health and safety measures. 

Justice for Queen and Close community coalition see safe and affordable housing as interconnected. We say NO to any development that prioritizes ballooning profits over safe, affordable, and dignified housing.