Any deal for Queens Quay land will now include affordable housing, seller says

After complaints from a Toronto city councillor, the Crown corporation that helps sell federally-owned properties is now making sure affordable housing is part of any bid for a prime parcel of waterfront land.

Councillors voted unanimously last week to petition the federal government to alter the terms of sale for 200 Queens Quay West to make sure it stipulated the creation of new affordable housing.

The seller, the Canada Lands Company, tweeted Wednesday evening that after an “important conversation about affordable housing” in Toronto, the company has modified its instructions to bidders to “acknowledge the necessity of affordable housing in any redevelopment plan approval.

“They will also need to outline their experience with affordable housing,” the tweet reads.

This was welcome news for Coun. Joe Cressy, who was pushing hard for the changes.

“This is a good news story, and it’s a good outcome,” Cressy told CBC Toronto. “When it comes to public lands, whether it’s municipal, provincial or federal, if governments are selling off public lands for residential housing, we need to ensure that there is a component of affordable housing built in.”

It’s not clear exactly how many units might end up in any redevelopment, but Cressy said he’s looking forward to working with Canada Lands and any successful bidder to make sure there is a “significant amount of affordable housing built on site,” and “truly build a mixed income community.”

Right now, the property on Queens Quay houses an eight-storey parking building that opens onto Lower Simcoe Street. Records show the Canada Lands Company officially bought the land in 2016, when it was valued at $22.9 million — though Adam Vaughan, the federal Liberal MP for Spadina–​​​Fort York, said that process started back in 2013.

Canada Lands has tapped TD Cornerstone Commercial Realty for the marketing and sale of the property.

TD says the property could house a two-tower development with a 10-storey mixed-use podium, with dual 55-storey and 45-storey towers on top.

According to a Toronto Housing Market Analysis report from earlier this year, the city’s residents are grappling with a housing crunch that’s on track to get worse if there’s not enough government action, thanks to low rates of social housing and purpose-built rental construction, coupled with rising population growth.

Researchers from the Canadian Urban Institute and the Canadian Centre of Economic Analysis predict Toronto’s population will hit 3.5 million people by 2031 — and nearly four million a decade later. Similarly, the number of households on the social housing wait list will spike, increasing nearly 30 per cent to just under 120,000 by 2031 and to more than 135,000 by 2041.

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