Mayor John Tory stood in front of an unused plot of land in downtown Toronto on Monday to make the point there's been a lack of action on affordable housing.
The city-owned Madison Avenue lot was designated for affordable housing development a decade ago, but nothing has materialized.
"Here it sits, 10 years later, still vacant," said Tory. "Unacceptable."
Tory used it as a backdrop to announce what he calls the Open Door initiative, where the city would free up land and fast track developers to create affordable housing.
"The Open Door initiative will change the way the city does business with developers," he said.
The mayor would also solicit land from the provincial and federal governments for new developments.
"We should be opening doors for those who want to be building affordable housing," said Tory, referencing the "open door" in the initiative.
He said while he recognizes other governments may not be able to contribute financially to building housing, "they own land."
"It would be a good start in this initiative to make some of their land available for affordable housing," he said.
Rolling out the red carpet
The other part of the initiative is to fast track affordable housing developments. Tory said there has been a "massive failure" during his predecessor Rob Ford's tenure as mayor on new developments. He said the city is often in the way of affordable housing getting built.
Of the city's 2020 targets for affordable housing, it still needs 6,810 rental and 734 ownership homes — well behind where it should be, according to Tory.
Tory said if developers want to build affordable housing, the city would "roll out the red carpet" for them.
Tory and councillor Ana Bailao co-authored a letter to other levels of government outlining the Open Door initiative.