Toronto launches mass timber pilot programme for affordable rental housing

Image: Linus Mimietz/Unsplash

The city of Toronto, Canada, has recently announced a pilot programme that will bring new affordable rental housing to the city-owned Toronto Parking Authority parking lot.

According to the press release by the city, this 100-home project will take a new climate action approach to deliver affordable housing using mass timber and other low-carbon materials for building construction.

The development is being designed to the highest tier of Toronto Green Standard Version 4. To reach this tier, this development will see no on-site fossil fuel use, maximise on-site renewable electricity, and use mass timber and other low-carbon materials as much as possible, so as to reach near net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Through this pilot programme, it is anticipated that a new, scalable affordable and market housing solution — a Mass Timber Affordable Housing Programme — will be developed that can be replicated on other city-owned sites across Toronto.

“The pilot programme announced today will demonstrate not only the commitment we have to becoming a greener city but that this approach can allow help build cost-effective affordable housing,” said John Tory, Mayor of Toronto city. “Using innovative and modern ideas like mass timber construction will help us deliver high quality designs and buildings that will contribute to our goal of net zero emissions by 2040.

“Once the pilot project is up and running, the results could lead to a new development model which would add a new way for us to address the affordable housing challenges in our city. This is good news for our city and a clear demonstration of the work we are doing to advance new ideas and implement solutions to pressing issues faced by our city.”

The anticipated benefits of this approach to residential or mixed-use development include: faster construction timelines; reduced cost due to efficiencies; reduced greenhouse gas and material emissions from the housing, transportation, and construction sectors; and improved quality of life for future residents, all while optimising the density of affordable housing on targeted Toronto-owned real estate assets.

The press release also mentioned that if the results of the pilot programme are successful, a full set of recommendations will establish a new permanent Mass Timber Affordable Housing Programme.