Affordable Housing on Markham Road
By Derek Pinder
253 Markham Road is a vacant parcel of land sitting between the rail tracks and Dunelm Street. It won’t be vacant for much longer. On April 22nd, Options for Homes held the third community meeting presenting their plans for development of the site, and this is expected to be the last such meeting. An application has been submitted for amendments to the Official Plan and zoning by-laws to allow the latest proposal to go ahead. The development comprises four towers of 8,16,19 and 20 storeys plus 54 stacked townhouses for a total of 640 residential units. An acre of the site will be donated to the city for the development of a public park.
Options for Homes is a non-profit social enterprise which helps middle-income people get into the housing market. Heather Tremain, CEO, said that this is a suitable place to build affordable housing because it is a large site in an established neighbourhood with good public transit. It will be built in four phases, commencing with the 20-storey tower and ending with the townhouses.
When the meeting was opened up for questions and comments from the 40-odd attendees, the biggest issue was traffic. Post COVID-19 car usage is, of course, an unknown but none of us has a crystal ball.
A significant concern is that vehicles exiting the site onto Markham Road can make only a right turn and, similarly, vehicles travelling south on Markham cannot make a left turn to access the site. The alternatives are to connect via Cedar Drive and Eglinton or via Dunelm and Scarborough Golf Club Road. A number of local residents expressed misgivings about safety, traffic jams, noise and pollution. A second concern is parking. The zoning by-law requires a minimum of 740 spaces but the intent is to provide only 585. The traffic problems will be difficult to solve but on a site of this size it should not be difficult to provide sufficient parking, and this should be done for the benefit of existing area residents as well as those who will live in one of the new buildings.
It seems that it is the consensus in Toronto that we need more affordable housing. This development fills that need very well and is much better than the currently common practice of destroying existing infrastructure to make room for such housing.