Many legislative changes that have been made by the province in recent years in the name of building more housing have made it much harder for us to negotiate community benefits with new developments. Previously, there was something called Section 37 which could cover things like park play structures, daycares, and even be reserved towards building a new community centre. Things have changed substantially now that we are limited to receiving 4% of land value as a community benefit. This amount does not cover the cost of a daycare which developers no longer have an incentive to provide. Click Here to read a great summary of this change from Councillor Carroll.
500 Sheppard East is a great example of the impact these legislative changes are having on our community. Previously, a development was planned for a 29-storey residential building with a daycare included. This project was appealed and settled. After the province brought in their changes, it became more profitable to scrap years of design and planning and instead submit 2 towers at 39 and 43 stories with no daycare built in. As an olive branch they offered to consider a private daycare in the allotted commercial space, if there is one that is willing to pay for the fitting out of the space.
We are grateful for the olive branch under these circumstances. However, Child Services have told us that Willowdale currently is missing 1900 daycare spaces to meet their goal of spots for 50% of kids 0-4 years old. That is a huge gap and currently we have neither the tools nor the budget to make this happen. It used to be that growth paid for growth. This new reality means we are building more housing without key pieces of community infrastructure to make for whole communities. I am planning on meeting with our MP Stan Cho to discuss the challenges I am encountering on developments like this one.