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Tag Archives: city councillors

With 77,000 new condos on tap, can Toronto handle the influx?

James Armstrong – Global News

City councillors approved a staggering 755 storeys of new development in the city’s downtown core on Tuesday as part of an ongoing effort to increase density south of Bloor Street.

That’s 6,887 new units, 377,900 square metres of non-residential space and 5.3 acres of new parkland.

And that’s on top of 70,000 residential units already approved and just waiting to be built.

But much as good planning demands density – and seductive as it can be for politicians to use construction cranes as campaign props – can Toronto’s infrastructure handle the influx of people, cars and buildings?

Comment: Even better, why have they not upgraded said infrastructure? Developers pay fees to build, fees that are supposed to pay for new sewers and water lines, gas and hydro for all the new residents.

Toronto condo boom
So far, yes. But if the city doesn’t move forward with infrastructure fixes and upgrades, it risks falling behind, leaving residents of those 77,000-odd new units high and dry.

Comment: They are already years behind.

“We have to make sure the people and the residents have the tools and the resources they need to be successful. And that’s one of our challenges,” downtown Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said in an interview Wednesday.

Councillor Joe Mihevc said the onslaught is part of huge changes the city will go through in the next generation.

But, he said, the city has to make sure its infrastructure keeps up with the development.

The city’s planning department is studying whether Toronto is keeping up with development – analyzing everything from water capacity and sewage systems to schools, parks and daycares.

Chief City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat doesn’t think development needs to hit the brakes – yet.

But she admits the city is pockmarked with areas starving for adequate, up-to-date infrastructure – be it water capacity, parks or transit.

Comment: Why would development have to stop? Shouldn’t the city actually start?

She noted that at least half of the new residents downtown walk or cycle to work, taking some strain off an already congested public transit system.

Comment: No, that doesn’t take strain off the system, it just doesn’t add to it.

Toronto Hydro infrastructure
“So it actually really points to the importance of investing in cycling infrastructure, which is a fraction of the cost of transit infrastructure,” she said.

Comment: Exactly, it just shifts the burden. So we need bike lanes now more than ever. In addition to more transit. And more roads. And more gas/water/hydro. And schools. Oh yeah, some parks would be nice. And grocery stores. And…

At the same time, Keesmaat said the relief line is absolutely critical for Toronto to stand a chance of moving people in and out of the city’s core.

“Given the magnitude of growth that we see, we simply cannot afford to pause on the downtown relief line,” Keesmaat said.

The relief line – much touted by mayoral candidates but vague in its length, route, cost and time frame – could go down Don Mills, south on Pape Avenue, then west on King Street, giving people from the north and northeast a way to get to and from downtown rather than crowded buses, streetcars and subways.

Comment: And then loop around and head through Parkdale on its way to High Park and hopefully even further north.

The project though will cost billions: roughly $3.2 billion to connect Pape Station to St. Andrew Station, or nearly $8.4 billion to run the line from Don Mills and Eglinton to Pape Station, then St. Andrew and ultimately Dundas West station.

Comment: Which is why no politician will touch it. They don’t know where the money will come from and none of them wants to be the one to commit to such a huge spend.

Toronto water infrastructure
A 2012 Metrolinx report said some kind of transit fix – preferably a relief line – is “required before 2031” in order to deal with capacity concerns on the existing subway lines.

There is an upside to the 70,000 units and 750 storeys, though – a huge increase in tax revenue.

Comment: And development charges. And land transfer tax. The amount of money the city will take in on those units would pay for a downtown relief line 2x over. Average condo price $370,000 or so – $3,425 in land transfer tax. Then there is around $20,000 in development charges per unit. That is $1,639,750,000 in taxes and fees for just those units. At approximately $2,000 in property taxes per unit, that is another $140,000,000 in annual revenue. Where is all of that money going?

Mihevc explained the city’s coffers have been benefitting from the fast pace of development for several years but due to a number of factors from downloading services from the province, increased costs of policing and the demand for new services, the city hasn’t been able to invest in badly needed infrastructure.

“So it really hasn’t allowed us to do things like infrastructure planning like say around public transit, or strong additional park lands that we need,” he said.

Comment: You better start soon, or things are going to go south in a hurry.

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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