Tag Archives: City of Toronto

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In Conversation With… Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner, City of Toronto

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In Conversation With… Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner, City of Toronto

Gregg Lintern, for those in the urban planning field, has one of the most desired gigs in all of Canada – chief planner of the City of Toronto. But heading up the planning department of the largest city in the country, indeed, one of the fastest growing in the world, is no cushy assignment. Managing growth, housing development, transit and cycling infrastructure… the list of tasks is endless and the critics plentiful and often harsh. And in a COVID world, everything is that much more complicated.

Lintern opens up about his vision for the city, his department, and the challenges of the development approvals process.

You’ve been in the chair a few years now… What have you learned or come to appreciate about the job?

Growth and change in a city of three million people is complex. The job is about managing that complexity to focus finite energy and resources to influence positive outcomes – usually in partnership with public and private interests. I’ve learned that is not easy – and it takes people and your ability to inspire people to get things done.

How would you describe your philosophy as Chief Planner for the City of Toronto?

Be values driven – I ground my thinking in values such as humility, empathy, generosity, perspective and resilience – and be people-centred. Think about the outcomes – the city we want to be in 20 years, and work backwards. What choices can we make now that will get us there and have our children and grandchildren say we made good decisions?

The city as we know it is a consequence of evolutionary change, driven by internal and external forces. Part of my role is influencing change for the better, understanding mistakes and showing a willingness to change direction, and push for beneficial outcomes.

The tensions that exist within the system of evolution are many, including things such as cars versus other modes of transportation, and exclusivity of land use versus mixed use. These tensions often result in incremental compromise, even as the general direction is clear.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but COVID has seemingly accelerated and clarified both our opportunities and challenges. Ideas with long-standing support, such as increased cycling infrastructure, have moved forward quicker than they otherwise might have. But just as quickly, existing issues such as access to housing and social and health inequities have an increased urgency and visibility around them.

If we remain grounded in our values, I do think we can use this moment of clarity, even if it feels overwhelming at times, to make some lasting changes for the better, particularly for our most vulnerable groups.

What do you hope to accomplish in your tenure?

I set out a simple goal at the beginning of my tenure, and that was to build on past accomplishments and leave the Division and the City in a better place than I found them. I see that as the contribution everyone should make – in service to their family, friends, community and city – is to add, to enrich, to get it ready for who comes next as an intergenerational responsibility. In that sense, the city having more housing available and affordable for more people and better mobility than they have now – to have that access to opportunity that people across the city require. Toronto has landed on many top 10 lists across many measures of success; my job is to keep us there and to grow the list.

What changes would you like to make, or are making, from the way your office has operated in the past?

I would simply emphasize communication with staff and stakeholders. I know you can’t get things done alone – the more we communicate in a way that resonates with people, the better off the results of the services we provide and the outcomes in the community.

What are the top priorities in the planning department these days (such as improving the approvals process, addressing the need for “missing middle” housing, cycling infrastructure…)?

While we are looking at improvements to the approvals process, we are very much focused on improving the outcomes of the process – ensuring that new development contributes positively to the idea of complete. That’s really our main priority and much of what we do is aligned with this objective. In addition to the construction of new housing and commercial space, expanding and improving transportation infrastructure, cycling connections, expanding and making better use of our public spaces are all elements in the process of building complete communities.

Building a more livable, equitable Toronto is also a top priority. The City’s recently approved Housing Now projects are examples of smart density, building complete, mixed income, mixed-use communities with housing accompanied by child care facilities, open spaces, pedestrian connections and new streets, and retail and office space in various configurations. It’s about developing a broad range and mix of uses, combined with good urban design, to support daily life. Missing middle housing, and expanding housing options in neighbourhoods, is part of that work and city planning has a considerable role to play.

The home building industry is lobbying various levels of government to make the approvals process faster and simpler. How do you see this issue, and how are you addressing it?

The City conducted an End-to-End Development Review, which provided recommendations to improve the development process for both applicants and the City. To implement the recommendations, the City has established the Concept to Keys (C2K) program – a dedicated, multi-divisional team that will guide this work and will modernize how the City of Toronto attracts, facilitates and regulates development activity. C2K is working to create more predictability, efficiency, transparency and collaboration. Early areas of focus include a revised operating model and governance structure, enabling online applications and evaluating options to enhance backend technology to more effectively manage the development review process from start to finish.

New home supply and affordability, some say, are at or near crisis levels, and that we really need to approve and build more new housing, and more quickly, in order to meet demand and address affordability concerns. What’s your take on all this, and how realistic is it to expect your office to “fix” this problem?

Affordability and access are major challenges facing Toronto and many other growing North American cities. Council adopted the HousingTO 2020 – 2030 Action Plan in December 2019. It recommends a host of actions to improve supply and affordability across a whole spectrum of need. It’s a tool kit approach because there isn’t one fix for the housing challenge. About 20,000 units of housing are approved every year in Toronto, but a greater variety of housing more targeted to specific needs is required. Ideas such as expanding housing options in neighbourhoods, and more ground related housing such as laneway suites and secondary suites in homes, are gaining interest, for example.

What other cities, either in Canada or elsewhere in the world, have planning departments, systems and processes that you believe work well, and that we could learn from, and why?

We are always looking toward other cities, and encourage other cities to look to Toronto, to seek out and share best practices. No two places are the same and local context is always important, but there absolutely are lessons to be learned from work being done elsewhere.

Many cities in Canada and around the world are contending with the same challenges, though perhaps at different levels of intensity, as Toronto. Expanding housing options and providing for some that of “missing middle” are one such example, where cities are looking at what other jurisdictions are doing and then developing a suite of tools that work for their communities.

How did the early days of the COVID-19 shutdown impact your office? We’ve heard a lot about approval processes slowing, and submission backlogs…

Like any other organization, the pandemic disrupted core business in the very early days but the initial disruption was short-lived. Staff pivoted to work from home over the course of eight weeks, and that transition limited backlog and enabled staff to perform duties normally undertaken in the office.

One of the challenges posed by COVID has been hosting community consultation meetings. We host hundreds of these meetings in communities throughout the year to consult on new development applications and the development of new planning policy. What used to occur in person has moved online, and there has been a period of adjustment in adapting new consultation approaches. These new approaches to consultation present an opportunity for us to reach a broader audience and incorporate more constructive feedback into the planning process.

Lintern cycling on Lake Shore Blvd. during one of the recent ActiveTO weekend road closures.

How have things progressed since then? Is the planning department back up to full capacity?

Since the initial weeks of the shutdown, we have provided staff across the Division with resources to continue processing development applications and new policies remotely. We have been running at full capacity for several months now.

What has your office learned, or changes you’ve made, since the pandemic began?

We focused initially on keeping the economy going with development approvals, introduced temporary use bylaws to expand cafes, supported new housing initiatives for vulnerable people such as modular housing, moved consultation online with virtual consultation meetings and workshops, reformatted services including holding Committee of Adjustment hearings online. We have adapted our processes to work better remotely and provided our staff with resources to continue managing development review applications.

Additionally, the pandemic provided a renewed sense of clarity and urgency to certain areas of work, including the need to expand housing options and build local resilience right across the city.

toronto.ca

And on a personal note:

What part of town do you live in (from your Twitter account, it looks like you’re a west-ender…)?

In Toronto, you are either east or west of Yonge. I’m west of Yonge – actually grew up in Rexdale and have lived in the west end ever since. But I love the east end too, of course!

What is your favourite thing about Toronto?

When I get asked this I usually say – it’s a good place to call home. I often think of the people who were here before European settlement, of the waves of immigrants who have come here and of the people who desire to come here. It’s grown into a big city, but remains a place people want to call home.

When you’re not at the office (real or home office), you’re:

Walking or cycling in my High Park neighbourhood.

If you weren’t a city planner, you would:

Cook for people.

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City and industry work together to remove barriers to homeownership

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City and industry work together to remove barriers to homeownership

This is a challenging time for families who had been planning to buy a place to live in the GTA in the near future. Those who are still able to contemplate a new home purchase in this time of economic uncertainty will find fewer choices as the building industry recovers from construction delays due to the pandemic. It has never been more important for governments to work with our industry to alleviate the financial pressures on homebuyers and remove barriers to the renewal of construction activity. Two developments at the City of Toronto make me hopeful.

The first development could potentially ease some of the tax burden on first-time homebuyers in Toronto. City Council recently considered a report from the chief financial officer that identifies opportunities to provide first-time buyers with greater relief from the Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT), including potentially revising the maximum price eligibility threshold of $400,000 to reflect increased home prices in Toronto. BILD supports council’s direction on the MLTT, and we are looking forward to developments on this item when it is considered by the budget committee in November.

The second development at City Hall will help our industry bring more new home supply to consumers. At the end of last month, council adopted Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong’s motion to have staff prepare a plan to clear the backlog at the Committee of Adjustment, the body that makes decisions on builders’ applications for minor variances from the Zoning By-Law, by the end of 2020, and find ways to increase future capacity.

Alleviating Committee backlogs was one of the recovery recommendations BILD made to the Mayor and the Office of Recovery and Rebuild. We provided Deputy Mayor Minnan-Wong with data from our COVID-19 Economic Impact Survey, which found that pandemic-related construction delays would result in the loss of about 9,000 housing starts over the course of 2020 and 2021, and the delayed occupancy of more than 8,000 units by the end of 2021. Implications would also include the loss of close to 10,000 jobs per year and the loss or delay, beyond 2021, of about $850 million in government revenues.

Despite disruptions due to COVID-19 and a number of regulatory and logistical hurdles, service levels at the City have improved significantly since the start of the pandemic. City Planning was able to approve projects representing more than 12,000 housing units between mid-March and mid-June.

We will work with the City to help clear the remaining backlog of Committee of Adjustment applications and toward greater service efficiency post-pandemic so we can replenish Toronto’s new home inventory. We are stronger when we work together. Our industry looks forward to working with all of the municipalities of the GTA to remove barriers to homeownership and renewal of construction activity as we set out on the road to economic recovery.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the homebuilding, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA. For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, @bildgta or visit bildgta.ca.

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Outdoor lovers love condos

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Outdoor lovers love condos

If you are an active person who loves the outdoors and think you have to live in a lowrise home to be happy, think again! Condominiums offer ample opportunities to stay active and enjoy being outside without ever leaving the building.

First, today’s condominium suites have extra-large windows that bring the outdoors in on a daily basis. Gorgeous city, tree and/or lake vistas help to keep condo residents grounded, no matter what floor they live on. And then of course, there are balconies where residents can place outdoor furniture and planters to grow everything from flowers to herbs and tomatoes. Unless you plan on growing giant pumpkins, gardening is no longer the exclusive pastime for people in lowrise homes with backyards.

On a more public level, new condominiums feature gorgeous common areas that offer outdoor recreation and enjoyment. Landscaped courtyards at ground level are perfect for sitting in the sun using a personal electronic device or even … gasp … reading a paper publication. Oh, and sipping on a coffee or tea enriches that experience.

In the buildings themselves, you may find any number of other outdoor or indoor/outdoor spaces such as Zen gardens and yoga areas. Rooftop terraces are beautiful and exciting. Discover barbecues, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, loungers or pools; the possibilities are fascinating. Imagine sitting and lapping up the views under a clear blue or dramatic evening sky.

As for the keeping active part of the condo lifestyle, that begins at ground level with location. Today’s new condos are situated close to amenities. Residents can usually walk or ride a bicycle to run a variety of errands or dine out or visit attractions or shop – you get the picture. In the City of Toronto, condos are are required to contain a certain number of bicycle parking spots to accommodate this healthful trend.

Then, of course, there are fitness facilities in most, if not all, new condominiums – and they are so well equipped that residents can give up expensive gym memberships. They can throw on some workout clothes, take the elevator to the fitness room, exercise and then go back to their suite without braving the weather or having to start the car. Today’s state-of- the-art fitness rooms have high ceilings, massive windows and elaborate equipment. Some even enable team sports in a gymnasium, and many have Pilates/yoga areas or climbing walls. They may include change rooms, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, plunge pools and/or swimming pools to vary the experience. Keeping active is so important to people today, that some condominium corporations are hiring recreational coordinators to organize classes and events. Who needs a commercial fitness club, when you have all of this right at home?

Whether you prefer a brisk walk, a vigorous weight workout, an energetic aerobics class, a feel-good yoga session, basketball game, swim or some green-thumb bending and stretching, in a condominium, the fulfillment of your exercise needs is at your doorstep.

Barbara Lawlor is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an indemand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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Building condos in urban areas requires the use of traffic lanes

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Building condos in urban areas requires the use of traffic lanes

We often joke in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) that we have two seasons, winter and construction. Most people can do without winter, but construction is essential to city building. We put up with it because we know that infrastructure like roads, sewers and watermains, must be continually maintained to ensure the viability of our growing cities. The same can be said when it comes to new condo construction.

On occasion large construction projects like condos in the downtown core can take up traffic lanes and create traffic slowdowns. Unfortunately, to keep up with the influx of the 9.7 million people that will call the GTA home by 2041 and to build to Growth Plan policy, our industry will be building highrise buildings in urban areas that may slow down your daily commute.

A recent City of Toronto motion was put forth to consult with the development industry to eliminate the practice of occupying sidewalks and traffic lanes for construction purposes. While this might help ease traffic congestion, it does very little to help keep the cost of new homes down. If the development industry is forced to build off-site staging areas, instead of using the already in place and legal City right-of-way, the extra cost incurred by the industry will ultimately make new homes more expensive.

A construction staging area is a physical location used for the storage of construction related equipment and materials such as vehicles and stockpiles. The City has policies to deal with this issue and the construction industry pays hundreds of thousands of dollars per project to be able to use City property for this legally allowed and long standing purpose.

The provincial Growth Plan calls for more intensification in urban areas where transit is available and where people work. Therefore, the City of Toronto has urban design guidelines that allow for the construction of tall buildings very close to the property line. These are the challenges of building in an urban environment. There is little or no room to do anything on the site and the only way to build safely is to take a lane of public traffic.

The industry is constantly looking for ways to alleviate traffic construction by avoiding closing down lanes and keeping costs down by side-stepping building off-site staging sites that would ultimately increase the cost of a new home or condo.

Developers often reach out to residents for solutions. A developer of a midtown 70,000-square-foot condo was considering an underutilized park adjacent to the highrise as an alternative to using the street. Having to build a separate staging site at a cost of $1,000,000 would have increased the price of a condo by $20,000 or $30,000. Using the street is the best way to keep the development affordable.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Bild.ca

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INDUSTRY EXPERT: The Waiting Game

INDUSTRY EXPERT: The Waiting Game

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INDUSTRY EXPERT: The Waiting Game

by David Wilkes

Looking to renovate? Getting permits and approval may take longer than the work itself

Your family is growing and you need more space. You have two options. You can sell your house and move into a bigger home, or you can renovate your home and add more living space. You love your neighbourhood and do not want to move, so you decide to renovate.

Your first inclination may be to focus on the latest trends and finishes, but before you do that, your time is much better invested in getting the necessary approvals and permits. In some cities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), that can take months for a smaller renovation and up to a year for more ambitious projects.

Photography: bigstock.com
Photography: bigstock.com

REALITY BITES

Many homeowners are under the mistaken impression that it is as simple as filing your plans and obtaining your permit—a week or two and on to swinging hammers. The reality can be quite different. When planning a major renovation or custom-home build, the approval and permitting times can stretch for months, and may include multiple steps of getting approvals for variances to existing zoning requirements, setback regulations and obtaining approvals from other municipal departments like Urban Forestry. If re-zoning through the Committee of Adjustment is required, the entire process can take well up to a year.

Layered onto this, many municipalities are failing to meet The Ontario Building Code’s timeframes of just issuing a building permit in 10 business days, delaying renovation projects and adding unnecessary costs to projects. In 2017, in the City of Toronto, nearly half of all residential building permits were not issued within the required legislated timeframe.

RENO RED TAPE

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) reviewed 6,011 City of Toronto permits and the average timeframe for issuing these permits was 31.4 calendar days. That is two to two-and-a-half times the provincially mandated maximum. It is important to note that this review included thousands of applications from very basic and quick permits, to permits with values of over $100,000; the issuing of these permits took an average of 45 days or six weeks.

Further delays in the process come from a lack of access to inspectors and inspection delays that can tangle homeowners up in even more red tape. Your dream renovation has now become a bureaucratic nightmare. The permit and approval system needs a good renovation itself.

PROPOSED SOLUTIONS

BILD wants to put the customer first so they can enjoy their newly renovated or custom-built home sooner rather than later. Based on our members’ experience, we wrote the Service Standard of Excellence document to provide practical guidance to municipalities on how to speed up approvals and make the process more efficient.

We are asking cities to commit to a reasonable turnaround time for renovation permit applications, we are proposing the implementation of a one-window permitting, web-based portal that makes the application process smoother and transparent, and we are calling for improved service by building inspectors similar to the standards expected for Internet and telephone providers.

As we get closer to the 2018 Municipal Elections this fall, we will be meeting with councillors and mayors across the GTA to ask them to adopt the measures outlined in the Service Standards of Excellence and get them to provide building and renovation approvals and permits in line with the provincially mandated requirements.

David Wilkes is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, Facebook, BILD’s official blog, and bildgta.ca.


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Condo Market: Enjoy an Active Lifestyle in a New Condo

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Condo Market: Enjoy an Active Lifestyle in a New Condo

Nowadays, fitness is more than a craze; it is a way of life for people of all ages. If you are shopping for a new condominium and fitness is an important part of your lifestyle, congratulations! You could not make a better choice. Condos encourage active living by both location and design. Ontario’s Places to Grow Act has dictated that condo developers build “up” rather than “out” and locate buildings close to public transportation and amenities. This translates to residents walking to local shops and services, and walking is the first level of fitness. Bicycling is next, and in the City of Toronto, condos are required to contain a certain number of bicycle parking spots. Both residents and visitors can burn off calories pedaling around to run errands or meet for coffee.

Lumina at Emerald City

New condominiums themselves are graced with a beautiful variety of amenities that accommodate exercise without having to leave the building. For example, fitness facilities typically rank high on condo shoppers’ must have lists. In addition to the convenience of having exercise facilities under their roofs, these suite-owners can say good-bye to gym membership fees. Today’s state-of-the-art fitness rooms have high ceilings, massive windows and elaborate equipment. Some even enable team sports in a gymnasium, and many have Pilates/yoga areas or even climbing walls.

Modern condo fitness facilities rival the nicest of commercial clubs with change rooms, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, plunge pools and/or swimming pools to vary the experience. You will even find rooftop pools and sundecks with outstanding views. These areas are so popular that some condominium corporations are hiring recreational coordinators to organize classes and events. With these areas decorated to reflect the architectural aesthetics of the building, they are great spots for residents and their families and friends to use for get-togethers.

Recreation does not necessarily end at a condo’s traditional fitness facilities. The trend toward condo gardening is catching on, and people love it. We are seeing more urban condominiums that provide residents with gardening plots so they can grow their own herbs and vegetables, which gives new meaning to the concept of “eating close to home.” With gardening being one of North America’s favourite pastimes and the practice burning off calories, it’s a win-win situation. Fresh herbs and veggies always liven up a meal, and being able to access the exact amount you need without leaving “home” is incredible. And keep in mind that a condo suite with a balcony opens the door to container gardening right outside of your private living space. The variety of containers available today is exciting. They can be used to grow flowers, herbs, tomatoes and whatever else you can imagine. Unless you plan on growing giant pumpkins, gardening is no longer the exclusive pastime for people in low-rise homes with backyards!

Whether you prefer a brisk walk, a vigorous weight workout, an energetic aerobics class, a feel-good yoga session, basketball game, swim or some green-thumb bending and stretching, in a condominium, the fulfillment of your exercise needs is at your fingertips. GO CONDO!

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Incorporated and an in-demand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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The Lawyer: City of Toronto amalgamates four groups into CreateTO

The Lawyer: City of Toronto amalgamates four groups into CreateTO

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The Lawyer: City of Toronto amalgamates four groups into CreateTO

by Zale Skolnik

Included are Build Toronto, Toronto Port Lands Corporation, Toronto Parking Authority and Toronto City Real Estate.

As a significant and influential landowner in the Toronto real estate landscape, the City of Toronto’s reorganization of the management agencies responsible for the city’s real estate assets is a move that comes with many questions. With an enormous and diverse real estate portfolio, developers are constantly working with the city to purchase, partner with and redevelop surplus lands, generally to create additional much-needed housing in the City of Toronto.

Up until January 1, 2018, most of the city’s portfolio was managed by four distinct groups consisting of: Build Toronto, Toronto Port Lands Corporation, Toronto Parking Authority and Toronto City Real Estate.

After a year-long process, the city has completed the consolidation of its real estate holdings into a centralized entity, which will have effective management and control over all surplus city lands and real estate activities. According to a recent City of Toronto press release, this new entity is called CreateTO and as of January 1, all development deals will be managed through the CreateTO offices.

The aforementioned city groups will gradually merge into/report through CreateTO, and all redevelopment opportunities related to city real estate assets are said to be continuing within the mandate of CreateTO. Exact details on CreateTO’s operations remain to be disclosed.

The intention is for CreateTO to centralize all decision-making on city properties in one organization. It remains to be seen how the consolidation of the city’s assets into one agency, which will now have direct involvement from both bureaucrats and councillors, will allow the City of Toronto to fully and efficiently maximize economic benefit from it surplus lands.

We do look forward to representing our clients in partnership with the city on future development projects and hope that the consolidation results in practical efficiencies and the further development of surplus city assets for the benefit of all involved.

Zale Skolnik is an associate at Robins Appleby Barristers + Solicitors.

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City of Toronto - Home Energy Loan Program

Stay Warm This Winter for Less

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Stay Warm This Winter for Less

Tired of a cold, drafty home and high energy bills – HELP is here!

Through the City of Toronto’s Home Energy Loan Program (HELP), you can get a low-interest loan to cover the cost of a new high-efficiency furnace, new windows, doors, insulation and more. And if you want to go the extra mile, the loan can also cover the cost of solar rooftop panels, solar hot water heaters, and geothermal heating and cooling!

The great thing about Toronto’s Home Energy Loan Program, is that at the same time that you make your home more comfortable and reduce your energy bills, you’ll also be reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change.

Low-interest rates and great terms

In addition to offering low-interest rates (starting at 2%), and repayment terms of up to 15 years, you can repay the loan at any time without penalty. And if you sell your home and don’t want to pay off the loan, the new homeowner can assume the payments. Sound too good to be true? It’s not!

Save energy, money and more!

The results are impressive. On average, HELP participants::

  • reduce their home energy use by 30%;
  • save over $560 per year on their energy bills; and
  • receive additional incentives of up to $2,250 from utility companies such as Enbridge Gas and IESO.

You can get a loan of up to $75,000 for your improvements. The process begins with an easy online application. The HELP team will then connect you with a Registered Energy Advisor, help you access the incentives provided by the utility companies, and do what they can to make the process smooth and seamless.

Here’s what one HELP participant had to say about their experience retrofitting their Scarborough home:

We wanted to make our home more energy efficient and HELP was a fit for our needs. The renovations would add value to our property. It was an easy experience for us and we are very appreciative!”

The City’s HELP team is available to support you throughout the process. Ready to get started? Have a few questions? We’d love to hear from you.

Contact us at 416-392-1826 or learn more at toronto.ca/home-energy-loan.


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Toronto’s HELP program offers a ‘Win-Win’ for Contractors and Homeowners

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Toronto’s HELP program offers a ‘Win-Win’ for Contractors and Homeowners

Toronto contractors and homeowners can benefit from the low-interest financing tool offered by the City for home energy improvements.

The City of Toronto’s Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) makes it easier for Toronto homeowners to undertake a variety of home improvements.

Through HELP, homeowners can get a low-interest loan of up $75,000 to cover the costs of these improvements:

  • HVAC
  • High-efficiency water heaters
  • Windows/doors
  • Insulation
  • Rooftop solar panels
  • Solar domestic hot water system
  • Drain-water heat recovery system
  • Air sealing
  • Toilets

How can HELP benefit you, a Toronto area contractor?

Well, it all begins with the homeowner. With a low-interest loan from the City of Toronto, it’s easier for homeowners to take on high-cost renovations and pay for them over time as they save on their energy bills. And by making it easier for residents to improve their home, HELP can benefit you as well.

The more homeowners know about HELP, the easier it will be for you to seal the deal. Plus, there is no paperwork involved for contractors!

So, you can help your clients make the decision to proceed with their home improvements by spreading the word – by letting homeowners know about HELP and the low-interest loans available to them.

What’s in it for homeowners?

In addition to offering homeowners low-interest rates (starting at 2%), and repayment terms of up to 15 years, homeowners can repay the loan at any time without penalty. And the results are impressive. On average, HELP participants use 30% less energy, save $560 per year on energy bills and get up to $2,250 in utility incentives.

What’s more, City staff will guide homeowners through the steps to ensure a smooth and seamless experience. They’ll help homeowners access the incentives and rebates available from utility companies and connect them with a Registered Energy Advisor who will advise them on which upgrades are right for their home.

For more information about HELP, and to request materials that can help you spread the word, contact us at 416-392-1826 or visit toronto.ca/home-energy-loan.

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