Toronto should seek to improve the housing stock and livability within our inner-suburban neighbourhoods by removing restrictive zoning, strengthening community programming and conducting energy retrofits in tower block apartment buildings.
Pros: Improves the quality of life for over 1 million residents, essential for maintaining existing affordable housing stock.
Cons: High cost of implementation, difficultly working with privately owned buildings, fears retrofits will be paid for my residents in terms of higher rents leading to possible displacement
Tower Renewal is a visionary project that seeks to preserve and enhance the 1,200 tower apartment buildings throughout Toronto. These buildings are home to almost 1 million residents and represent approximately 20% of Toronto’s rental housing stock. They are vital assets that have faced years of neglect and are facing significant environmental, social and economic decay. The Tower Renewal Project seeks to conduct energy retrofits to reduce carbon emissions and operating costs to building owners, transform tower neighbourhoods into mixed-use communities and develop social opportunities through programming and new services.
The Tower Renewal office was opened at city hall under the Miller Administration and made significant progress developing a ten-year strategic plan, partnerships with the local non-profits, particularly the United Way, and conducting pilot projects at sites across the city. Although the office was severely cut back with the election of the Ford Administration, Council recently approved the rezoning of over 500 tower sites across the city, a key tenant of the program. Residential Apartment Commercial or RAC Zoning allows small businesses, from permanent retail stores to temporary farmers markets, to operate in and around tower neighbourhoods.
Image credit: Lydia, Flickr creative commons