Toronto

Brand new TCHC residence opens in Regent Park just in time for the holidays

The official opening on Sunday of a brand new residence in Regent Park — 150 River Street — is being hailed as a significant step at the city moves to address the issue of affordable housing.

Tenants will begin moving in this week, mayor says

Mayor John Tory cut the ribbon to mark the official opening on Sunday of a brand new residence in Regent Park, 150 River Street. (James Morrison/CBC)

A brand new residence in Regent Park is being hailed as a significant step at the city moves to address the issue of affordable housing.

The new building located at 150 River Street includes 125 Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) rent-geared-to-income units and 33 affordable-below market rental units. Tenants will begin moving in this week.

"This is so important when we look at the housing challenges that are facing our city, which are considerable and which we're working very hard on," Mayor John Tory said at a ribbon cutting ceremony Sunday morning.

"Regent Park and its revitalization is part of a much larger plan in addressing housing affordability."

Toronto city councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam said 150 River Street marks the 13th TCHC rental building being constructed in Regent Park. (James Morrison/CBC)

Tory said when the revitalization project is fully completed, more than 2,000 new rent-geared-to-income units, 400 affordable rental units, and 5,400 market units will be added to the city's housing stock.

Within the last two weeks, the city announced a plan that will go before city council shortly — Housing TO Action Plan for the years 2020-2030.

Tory said the plan provides a critically important path forward.

"It will ensure that the city is taking action and leading the charge to make sure that all governments are focused on housing as a right for people," Tory said.

The plan is expected to help more than 341,000 Toronto households over the next 10 years, he said.

A section of the play area at 150 River Street. (James Morrison/CBC)

He said the plan includes an ambitious target of approving 40, 000 affordable rental homes,18,000 new supportive housing units for vulnerable residents — including people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, and those experiencing challenges such as mental health, differing abilities or addiction issues — and 10,000 new affordable rental and supportive homes for women and girls.

Tory said that the goal for Regent Park has been to encourage the creation of a vibrant community where people can thrive in all respects — decent housing, good recreational opportunities and a solid opportunity in their lives to be what they want to be.

Cathy Birch, chair of TCHC's R-Path committee, helped with the design of the accessible units at 150 River Street. (James Morrison/CBC)

Cathy Birch, chair of TCHC's R-Path Committee that helped with the design of the accessible units at 150 River Street, said she is proud of the work that's been done to accommodate people with disabilities.

"There's knee clearance underneath sinks, underneath stoves, outlets that are accessible, [and] the bathroom is accessible," Birch told CBC News.

"You can actually function and thrive in this unit. It's allowing people with disabilities to thrive and function within their home without being put into long-term care unnecessarily."

Toronto city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said 150 River Street marks the 13th TCHC rental building being constructed in Regent Park.

"Revitalization in Regent Park, as well as in any of the TCHC major campuses, is not just about the brick and mortar … it is about making sure that the wellbeing, the health and the economic prosperity for all residents are going to grow," she said.

The Daniels Corporation was one of the city's development partners on the project.

Its vice president of project implementation, Jacob Cohen, said Regent Park is a vibrant, inclusive neighbourhood with an incredible sense of community unlike any other in the City of Toronto.

"We are delighted to see the doors open on another fantastic building, especially with the holidays right around the corner," Cohen said.

"We couldn't think of a better time for residents to come and enjoy their beautiful, brand new homes."

'We need the federal government to come through,' mayor says

Meanwhile, for the second consecutive day, Tory has called on other levels of government to help Toronto fund major projects.

He said it was never intended that city property taxes, for example, should be able to fund huge undertakings, or that city tax payers should be able to do this by themselves.

"We all, the very same people who pay city taxes, also pay the taxes that grow with the economy to the other governments, such as income taxes, corporate taxes [and] sales taxes," Tory said.

"We need the help of the provincial and federal partners who I will continuously work alongside, but who I also will continually advocate to, to make sure that they are playing the appropriate role and make sure that these kinds of  revitalizations can continue to happen."

He said this is necessary if the city is to meet the targets set out in the Housing TO Action Plan.

"We need the federal government to come through not only with the things they previously committed to in the National Housing Strategy before the election, but we also need them now to step up, as I'm confident they will, in the things they committed to during the election to enhance those programs," Tory added.

With files from James Morrison

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