On Saturday morning, several dozen nonprofit housing experts from across the province (in town for the annual Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association conference) embarked on a three-and-a-half-hour bus tour of 23 affordable housing sites along Weston Road, beginning at Finch Avenue and ending at Dundas Street West.
Along the way were examples of mixed-income housing projects, the affordable housing model du jour: The two-tower Heintzman Place (on Keele Street, south of Weston Road), where 300 of its 643 condo units are subsidized, and a new project in Emery Village, where the now-vacant site of the former Finch West Mall will soon bear a development with 148 affordable rental and 38 market homes.
At the Beech Hall seniors’ housing co-operative in Mount Dennis, city councillor Frances Nunziata made a guest appearance. “I’ve always been very proud that we still have these buildings,” she said of the quiet, 50-year-old townhouse community—the first social housing to be built in Ontario.
Nunziata’s brother, John Nunziata, was the ward’s alderman in 1979 when the Borough of York handed Beech Hall’s elderly denizens an eviction notice. Rather than invest the $655,000 necessary to renovate the properties, York had opted for demolition. The residents stood their ground and won the right to stay, providing a model for townhouse-style affordable housing for decades to come.