New modular affordable housing project in East York nears completion

A modular housing project which made headlines last year after East York residents objected to the removal of a small parking lot to accommodate it is now one step closer to completion.

Mayor John Tory and a number of city officials were on hand at the site at 540 Cedarvale Avenue on Thursday as crews began lifting the 59 pre-fabricated units into place.

The units, which each house studio apartments, will eventually be stacked on top of one another to form a new affordable housing building which will provide shelter to people exiting homelessness.

The building will be run by a non-profit housing provider and will also have common amenities, including a commercial kitchen that can provide on-site meals for residents.

“These projects are all about the modular housing, which gets done quickly and which gets done efficiently and provides those homes at a pretty quick pace. But it’s also very importantly about the supports that will be in those residences for the people who live there,” Tory said. “This is a much better, much more cost effective, much more humane, much more effective solution for people who have experienced homelessness (than shelters). We want to move away from building shelters and the reliance that we placed on them over time. Providing supportive, affordable housing is the most cost effective way that we can keep people married and keep people moving forward with their lives.”

A number of residents in East York expressed concerns about the modular housing site last spring, with some taking issue with the removal of a parking lot near Stan Wadlow Park and others suggesting that the density was not appropriate for the neighborhood.

During Thursday’s photo-op, the city councilor for the area conceded that there were many “challenging” conversations in getting the development built and “many, many meetings.”

But he said that the end result is something everyone involved can be proud of.

“I understand these projects are never easy and that’s because change is not easy. But change is necessary and change is needed,” Beaches-East York Coun. Brad Bradford said. “That’s what we’re doing. I’ve been a councilor for a relatively short period of time but it’s shown me that there is no single picture of housing need in this city. We need to build all kinds of homes in all kinds of places to reach our goal and that goal is ensuring that everyone has the basic dignity of a roof over their heads.”

Toronto’s modular housing initiative is a joint project being undertaken in cooperation with the federal government. The city is contributing nearly $29 million to building the homes in phases, while the feds are chipping in another $18.75 million in funding through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

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