With just days to go before he hosts a national housing summit, Toronto Mayor John Tory invited the media Tuesday to a derelict city-owned lot that he announced will soon be the site of new affordable housing units.
The lot on Lansdowne Avenue will be made available for development under the city's new Open Door program, which frees up land for development, but only to buyers who agree to build affordable housing — which Tory said is desperately needed in Toronto.
"If we don't take some action in this area ... we are going to run the risk, in a city that's as liveable as ours, and as respected and admired as ours, of having a generation of people that just can't contemplate living in the city of Toronto," he said.
'We cannot do it alone'
Tory's remarks came as he prepares to host national and provincial politicians, mayors from across Canada, developers, non-profit housing advocates and residents at the Toronto Housing Summit, which opens Friday.
Coun. Ana Bailao (Ward 18, Davenport), the city's housing advocate, was also at Tuesday's news conference. She said ultimately the goal will be to press Ottawa to establish a national housing strategy, which will provide cities with predictable, sustainable funding for affordable housing initiatives.
"We cannot do it alone," Bailao said Tuesday.
Toronto has set a target of 10,000 affordable rental homes by 2020. As of the end of 2015, just 2,848 had been created, according to figures provided by Bailao's office.
As well as the Lansdowne site, Tory said the Open Doors program has identified 14 other pieces of surplus city-owned land, worth more than $100-million, that developers will soon be able to bid on under Open Door.
In return for pledging to build affordable housing on the sites, developers' applications will be fast-tracked, and some fees will be waived.