Debate erupts over plans to turn a parking lot into affordable housing for homeless people

Greg Evans
Tuesday 02 March 2021 16:13
news
(Global News/ Screengrab)

A dispute has erupted in a neighbourhood of Toronto, Canada over plans for a housing project for people experiencing homelessness that is due to be built on the site of a car park.

More than 60 units of affordable housing are set to be erected in the East York area on a  parking lot, located on Cedarvale Avenue near Woodbine Avenue and O’Connor Drive.

However, the plans have caused outrage among locals who feel the site isn’t suitable for such a project due to its close proximity to an elementary school as well as daycare, public pool, baseball diamonds and a hockey rink. In turn, they believe that because the parking lot is so frequently used by parents, it provides a service to everyone in the community.

Residents are now protesting on the location demanding that city official stop the project and find an alternative for their plans. Steve Bland, a local community member is quoted by Global News as saying, “We’re not saying people don’t need support and people don’t need homes, but to increase the population density with… people going through the most troubling and difficult times of their lives with addiction and mental health issues, this may not be the appropriate place to do it.”

Footage from the Global News’ report has been viewed more than two million times, but this has also created a debate as to whether they should be protesting a project that is ultimately trying to help those in need, with some who claim to be familiar with the area saying that the parking lot is rarely busy.

Others have sided with the protestors and are sympathetic to their concerns.

The protesting locals also claim that they haven’t been contacted by city officials about their plans. This is reportedly part of Toronto’s Modular Housing Initiative.

Another site on Macey Avenue in the area of Pharmacy and Danforth avenues is nearing completion. The debated parking lot was originally announced for Harrison Street near Dovercourt Road and Dundas Street but has since been moved.

Councillor Brad Bradford has added that the need to get the projects completely hastily because the federal grant that they have received from the Canadian government needs to be spent by the end of this year.

The pandemic has also forced officials to get the houses built in order to protect those most vulnerable. Bradford is quoted as saying, “You must build the housing and have the folks move in by the end of the year in order to use that grant — so we’re very much working on the federal government’s timeline.”

Alejandra Ruiz-Vargas, a representative from ACORN Toronto, an organisation that helps low-income families told Global News that the protesters were “selfish” adding, “it’s going to be a little inconvenient, but we’re talking about something that is life versus inconvenience.”

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