dufferin mall towers

Toronto residents just won a battle with developers over changes to local mall

A Toronto community group just won a battle with developers over plans for the towers yet to be built in the Dufferin Mall parking lot. 

Build a Better Bloor Dufferin (BBBD), a volunteer-run group, were able to secure 120 affordable housing units inside the the towers, being developed by Primaris Management Inc., who owns Dufferin Mall. 

Back in 2018, Councillor Ana Bailao announced to the community that Primaris was planning to replace the Taco Bell and KFC area in the lot, with purpose-built rental housing, along with enhancing the mall. 

In July 2019, Primaris submitted an application to the city to get approved for the development plan of the site. However, Bailao says the city didn't agree with their application, citing issues with the built form of the buildings and the lack of a master plan for the site. 

Bailao says Primaris didn't agree with the issues the city arose, so the developer appealed their case to the Ontario Land Tribunal. At this point, a mediation process began between Primaris, BBBD, and Councillor Bailao. 

BBBD says they became involved when community consultations began for the project. 

During the mediation process, the group worked with Councillor Bailao to ensure community benefits, like affordable housing and more space for parks, were included in the development of the Dufferin Towers. 

"Affordable housing is critical for our neighbourhood, with all this upscale stuff coming, we're losing all these inexpensive places for people to live," said Lynn Cepin, a BBBD member who helped on the negotiation team. 

It took almost two years, but BBBD, the city, and Primaris were finally able to settle on an agreement this past July, and they finalized the 120 affordable units on Wednesday, says BBBD. 

The units make up 10 per cent of total residences in the towers and will be secured for up to 99 years, BBBD tells blogTO. 

Bailao says local agencies in the community will help secure tenants in the units and might be able to help with extra subsidies to deepen affordability for those moving into units. 

"This could be somebody working at the mall that lives on minimum wage, it could be a senior, or someone who's at risk of losing their home," said Bailao. 

BBBD says they're happy that most of their work paid off, although they wish more of their asks, such as park space, could've also been secured. 

Primaris says construction for the towers near Dufferin Mall could potentially start in 2022. 

Lead photo by

Emily Paradis

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