More rental stock coming online in downtown Toronto

The federal government pitches in $200 million to finance a mixed-use, purpose-built rental community development with a public market and affordable units

More rental stock coming online in downtown Toronto

Downtown Toronto will soon receive a “significant” bump in its rental housing stock.

Yesterday, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) announced the federal government is financing $200 million for the construction of six rental residential buildings with 916 rental units at Mirvish Village, a mixed-use, 100% rental community at the old site of the historic Honest Ed’s department store, at the corner of Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street.

“Today’s announcement reinforces our government’s commitment to creating homes that are affordable, energy efficient, and accessible. By helping build communities such as Mirvish Village, where people can live close to jobs, schools, and public transit, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of Canadians,” said the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister and minister of intergovernmental affairs.

The community, Mirvish Village, includes six rental residential buildings with a total of 916 rental units. Of those, 366 units will be provided at rents at or below 30% of median household income. Of the 366 affordable units, 100 will be secured at 80% of Average Market Rent for the City of Toronto, as published by CMHC. These affordable units will be scattered throughout the project and will be of the same quality and design as market rent units.

In addition to being the former home of Honest Ed’s, the Mirvish Village development was previously home to a swath of independent shops and cafes with an eclectic feel. Although residents and shopkeepers were sad to see the iconic neighbourhood demolished (the last days were filled with goodbye parties and farewell videos), they were also hopeful that the developers and architects would keep their word and maintain the vibrancy of the neighbourhood as well as provide more affordable housing.

“Our years of experience with CMHC starting with the redevelopment of Woodward's has resulted in some of the most meaningful city building in Canada and Mirvish Village is the largest of those projects to date,” said Ian Gillespie, founder of Westbank. Our ambitions with this project are very significant and none of this could be accomplished without the commitment from the team at CMHC and the commitment from the Government of Canada.”

This project, developed by Westbank Corp. and Peterson Group, comprises 279 studio units, 230 one-bedroom units, 284 two-bedroom units, 87 three-bedroom units and 36 live/work units. In addition to rental residential, the project will include the restoration of 24 heritage buildings, a public market and outdoor performance venue, a comprehensive cycling program, daycare, new public park, micro-retail incubator spaces created in collaboration with the Centre for Social Innovation and public art installations curated in partnership with David Mirvish.

The project includes a Neighbourhood Energy System by district energy provider Creative Energy, comprising a block-scale network that will provide reliable and low-carbon heating, cooling, and power. Mirvish Village is modelled to achieve a reduction of 23.7% in annual energy use and 30.8% in greenhouse gas emissions compared to the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 2015 reference building.

“This funding for the Mirvish Village will help us preserve a historic and vibrant community in our city. Honest Ed’s was a beloved part of our city, and by creating affordable housing on this vacant land we are able to address the housing challenges our city faces,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “This $200 million commitment demonstrates the importance of all levels of government working together to address issues that impact Torontonians.”

Mirvish Village is receiving financing through CMHC’s Rental Construction Financing initiative (RCFi), a National Housing Strategy program delivered by CMHC. This initiative supports rental housing construction projects to assist in providing a stable supply of rental housing for middle-class families living in expensive housing markets. Through RCFi, low-cost loans are available to borrowers who want to build affordable rental housing in Canada in response to demonstrated community need.

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, said that tis development is an example of how the government is increasing the number of rental units in Toronto and across Canada.