John Tory talks housing on Metro Morning
Toronto mayor wants commitments from federal parties on affordable housing
Toronto Community Housing has launched a pilot project to revamp how it tackles the massive repair backlog at its properties, a move Mayor John Tory says will speed up repairs and save the city money.
Called ReSet, the program will begin at TCH properties in three neighourhoods:
- Firgrove (Ward 7 York-Weston).
- Lawrence Orton (Ward 43 Scarborough-Guildwood).
- Queensway Windermere (Ward 14 Parkdale-High Park).
In these neighbourhoods, TCH will bundle together multiple capital repair projects to save costs as the city works through a repair backlog of $2.6 billion.
Tory explained the plan on CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Friday, and said the new approach will include hiring a general contractor to oversee work at entire buildings and put that work out to a public tender process. Also, TCH residents will have some input into how repairs are carried out, something he said was lacking before.
"We're now going to co-ordinate all this under one general contractor," Tory said. "What was going on before is they would have like 12 contractors going into a given neighbourhood ... and the kitchen installers would be different from the plumbers.
"We're now going to co-ordinate all of this under one general contractor. If we're buying kitchen cabinets, we're going to be buying them for two or three neighbourhoods at a time."
Tory continues to seek federal money for housing
Tory's appearance on Metro Morning comes one day after he hosted a meeting of five big-city mayors. With a federal election underway, the mayors are pushing national party leaders to make public commitments to fund affordable housing.
One TCH manager told the Toronto Star that if more money isn't put into the repairs, some TCH buildings could be shut down.
"I'm not going to let it get to that happen," said Tory. "We still are in need of several hundred million dollars not just from the feds, from the province too."
Tory said that while cities have made some progress getting the federal government to participate in transit funding, they've not had the same success on the housing file.
"Even if we have better transit … we won't have an affordable place to live for lower-income people," said Tory. "We need those workers, we need those jobs in our big cities and we need the affordable housing to go with it."
Tory was asked what he's specifically seeking from Ottawa on the affordable housing file.
The mayor's wish list includes:
- The parties to confirm that some money earmarked for infrastructure could be used for repairing social housing.
- Confirmation that money from Canada Mortgage and Housing mortgages that are coming due will be put back into housing.
- He'd like to see federally owned land in cities set aside for affordable housing.
"Each [federal party] has said something about housing but none of them has made the sort of broader commitment that we need in order to get more affordable housing built."
Tory said he would not be endorsing any specific party ahead of the Oct. 19 vote.
During the interview Adam Vaughan, who is running for the Liberals in Spadina—Fort York, tweeted at John Tory that the Liberals plan to put $20 billion of a $60 billion infrastructure find toward "new housing and repairs."
<a href="https://twitter.com/JohnTory">@JohnTory</a> Liberal $60b inf plan puts $20b into new housing and repairs, funds renewal of agreements & makes surplus fed land available—@TOAdamVaughan
Olivia Chow, who is running in the same riding for the NDP, also took to Twitter, tweeting at Metro Morning that the NDP would build 10,000 affordable housing units and spend $2.2 billion for repairs.
The NDP will build 10,000 units of affordable housing with $500 mil in first year, $2.2 b in first term to fix and build more. <a href="https://twitter.com/metromorning">@metromorning</a>—@oliviachow