Section 37: Affordable Housing at Wychwood Barns

Wychwood Barns is truly a special place in Toronto. Located in a former streetcar maintenance facility near St. Clair and Bathurst, an engaged group of individuals helped transform the site into an innovative community cultural hub. Managed by the non-profit group Artscape, the complex includes heritage buildings, public green space, a greenhouse, farmers’ market, a beach volleyball court, offices for local community groups, and event space that accommodates cultural events.

Photo by Mario Giambattista

Photo by Mario Giambattista

While many groups and funding mechanisms play critical roles in supporting Wychwood Barns, I want to focus on the specific impact of Section 37 in helping to facilitate the 26 live/work units on the site. As part of an approval for a mixed-use development at the intersection of St. Clair and Bathurst in 2004, the City of Toronto entered into an agreement with the applicant to provide $1,000,000 in funding to support the Wychwood Barns site. These funds were received between 2005 and 2006 and helped partially develop the rent-geared-to-income live/work units. As a result, Artscape was able to leverage additional funding from the provincial and federal governments. Section 37 was also used as a means to secure heritage conservation and to provide additional funding for on-site park improvements.

Through the flexible but targeted nature of Section 37, a unique community benefit was able to be moved over the finish line to become a lasting piece of Toronto’s heritage.