Vote to expropriate 214-230 Sherbourne lost but the fight continues


April 7, 2022

Yesterday – City Council voted 20-5 against the expropriation of 214-230 Sherbourne for much needed social housing. Mayor Tory and Deputy Mayor Bailão argued against saving the community of Dundas and Sherbourne, against investing in the generational resource of public housing for poor people in that neighborhood and the uplifting of the whole community.

“For the developers the property is about profits. For the City, the question of expropriation is about money. For our community it is about housing people; it is about life and death. By refusing to expropriate, they are bowing to the developers and, thereby, facilitating the destruction of our community,” says Dr. A. J. Withers from the Shelter and Housing Justice Steering Committee. An additional motion to try to protect the corner by seeking to purchase the adjoining plaza for the development of housing lost 10-15.

On April 27 the plan for the “revitalization” of the downtown east will be coming to the Planning and Housing Committee. “They say they will build housing in the neighborhood just not at 214-230 Sherbourne so then where, and when and for who exactly? They say there are plans for many units of ‘affordable’ housing coming but what does that mean in reality? What the City calls ‘affordable housing’ isn’t affordable for poor people. Will the proposed housing be for poor and homeless people, for residents of Dan Harrison, soon to be displaced by the renovation/redevelopment of their buildings?” asks Lindsay Windhager, spokesperson for the Regent Park CHC Advocacy Committee.

We demand that the Inglewood Arms be protected with Rapid Access Housing funds. We will push City Council to build rent-geared-to-income housing and protect people from the brutal impacts of displacement and condoization.

When Drina Joubert died in an abandoned truck at the back of 230 Sherbourne in December 1985 it galvanized the community. People organized around her death calling for subsidized housing for single adults which did not exist at the time. This fight led to the creation of 3000 units for single adults across Toronto.

214-230 Sherbourne operated as rooming houses as early as the 1970’s. They were boarded up in 2008. These properties were left vacant for 14 years while the city was experiencing a growing housing crisis. The owners of the rooming houses made huge profits over the years from some of the communities most vulnerable residents. Now the owners stand to make 10’s of millions of dollars when the sale of the properties is finalized but refused to sell the property to the City and the developer refused to let the City buy it for social housing.

Mayor Tory and Deputy Mayor Bailao argued against expropriation due to the cost it would now entail. However, had the City taken action to expropriate the property more than four years ago, when the community mobilized and asked that it be expropriated, the City could have saved millions of dollars, but they argued at the time that the process was too expensive and would have taken too long. As a result of nearly 9 years of community organizing – when the property was put up for sale we were successful in pushing the City to put in a bid to purchase the site for social housing! Unfortunately as a result of the out of control market the City lost the bid.

“To the developers, who stopped the site at 214-230 Sherbourne from being turned into social housing for people who desperately need it: the community will continue to fight to see that rent geared to income housing is built on this site. To the City of Toronto, who’s continued a pattern of abandonment of poor people: We will keep fighting until everyone in this neighbourhood and across the City has the housing they need and deserve” says Dr. Withers.