Council Watch: April Edition

The April Council meeting of 2017 focused a lot on Toronto Community Housing, including the closure of rental units due to serious repair backlogs. Council called on the Provincial Government to commit more funds to social housing and transit projects, and they increased support for building retrofits to improve housing and our environment.

Enviro issues on the agenda:

  • Council demands Provincial partnership on housing and transit

  • Toronto Community Housing secures more retrofit funding

  • Residential building retrofit program gets their own ‘retrofit’

 Council Watch: April Edition

Council demands Provincial partnership on housing and transit

The City of Toronto’s budget pressures are mounting, especially with major transit expansion plans and a long list of repairs and wait times for affordable housing. Despite funding commitments from the Federal Government, Council cannot get the work done unless there’s way more money in the bank.

The Province’s recently announced 2017 budget failed to commit the funds Toronto needs for transit and housing, which put Toronto City Council on high alert. Under Mayor Tory’s direction, Council passed a motion calling on the Federal government to require the Province to produce their 40% matching share of the money, with the remaining 20% to be covered by the City. It is unclear whether or not the Federal government would take this course of action.

Read more on the Toronto Star


Toronto Community Housing secures more retrofit funding

As energy costs rise, the need for deep energy retrofits in older buildings becomes even more clear. Through special low-interest loans and grants from the City of Toronto, including their Social Housing Apartment Retrofit Program (SHARP), Toronto Community Housing will be making much needed repairs to their buildings while doing major energy retrofits - which means they will save money on energy bills and repair backlogs for years to come. In addition, these retrofit projects will improve the quality of life in social housing, create jobs and help to meet Toronto’s climate change emission targets.

With the new low-interest loan approved at City Council this month, Toronto Community Housing will have all the funds they need to do deep energy retrofits on 9 buildings and start saving nearly $2 million a year.

Read more about these retrofits


Residential building retrofit program gets their own ‘retrofit’

At the April meeting, Toronto City Councillors voted to improve and extend the positive impacts of the Residential Energy Retrofit Pilot Program which offers financial support to retrofit homes and high-rise buildings. 

The Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) will continue to offer low-interest loans to homeowners until the end of 2018, thanks to an extended deadline. The High-rise Retrofit Improvement Support (Hi-RIS) Program, which is renewing Toronto's aging tower communities, has been expanded to also include smaller mid-rise buildings. Both HELP and Hi-RIS will now offer more upfront cash to get projects started and these projects can now include renewable energy systems (not just energy efficiency).

These pilot programs are being closely monitored and when the evaluation report goes to the Parks and Environment Committee, their results will hopefully offer a convincing case for scaling up these residential energy retrofit programs city-wide. In the meantime, the City is asking the Provincial and Federal governments to reduce barriers to participation in retrofit programs such as offering new incentives beyond what the City and utility companies currently provide.

Learn more about HELP

Learn more about Hi-RIS