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Resubmission Boosts Affordable Housing Proposal for Indigenous Seniors
Sept. 13, 2023

A landmark proposal in Toronto's Davisville neighbourhood is set to redefine affordable housing for Indigenous seniors. A resubmission for the redevelopment of 140 Merton Street revises the proposal at a density more in line with other development plans in the area. The updated Zoning By-law Amendment application, coming from a partnership among CreateTO, Missanabie Cree Elders Care, and EllisDon Community Builders, envisions a 28-storey affordable rental building, specifically tailored for Indigenous seniors.

Originally announced as part of the City’s Housing Now initiative, the project marked a historic collaboration with the Missanabie Cree First Nation, setting a precedent as the first Indigenous-led housing development for Indigenous seniors. The initial proposal, which was 18 storeys high, has now been revised upwards to 28 storeys/93.6m, aligning with the increasingly larger and taller development proposals near transit stations in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Designed by Montgomery Sisam Architects, the resubmission boasts a total gross floor area (GFA) of 22,139m², with 19,987m² dedicated to residential space and 2,150m² for community use. There is an increase in dwelling units from the initial 180 to 294, with a significant boost in 1-bedroom units. The amenities have also been enhanced, including 492m² of indoor space and 112m² outdoors. The design incorporates three elevators, resulting in one elevator for every 98 units. This overall increase in size aligns with Toronto's growing demand for affordable housing, especially for seniors.

Montgomery Sisam Architects have incorporated elements that not only resonate with the urban fabric of Toronto but also pay homage to Indigenous culture. The facade is expected to feature materials and patterns inspired by Indigenous art, creating a visual narrative that bridges the past with the present. The building's layout prioritizes communal spaces, fostering a sense of community among residents, while the inclusion of green spaces and terraces ensures a connection with nature, a vital aspect of Indigenous culture.

Additionally, the revised design also emphasizes sustainability, with a notable increase in bicycle parking spaces at 320 long-term and 36 short-term bicycle spots. This also reflects the city's push towards eco-friendly transportation. There is a slight increase in vehicular parking spaces, with the two-level underground garage set to contain 15 vehicular spaces for residents, 16 for visitors, and 15 for community use.

Architecturally, the design brief emphasizes the importance of preserving the visual integrity of a Modernist heritage element on the site. The new built form  respects the heritage structure's front yard setbacks and maintains a forecourt adjacent to it, with the new build set behind it.

The site's location, an 800m walk east of Davisville station on Yonge Line 1, positions it as a potential candidate for such a development. The increase in height is in line with other proposals near the station, such as 214 Merton Street, 185 Balliol Street, and 155 Balliol Infill, which all go higher in fact, surpassing the 30-storey mark.

Reflecting on the initial submission from a year ago, the City of Toronto at the time highlighted the significance of this project in advancing the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan. Mayor John Tory emphasized the importance of supporting Indigenous-led housing projects as part of the city's commitment to reconciliation, stating it "is an essential part of our commitment to reconciliation. We aim to advance more Indigenous-focused housing projects as part of our overall efforts to enhance housing in Toronto.” This larger resubmission further reinforces the City's determination to house more people sustainably.

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.