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The peculiar uses of Section 37 from public art to affordable housing

A look at the ways the city's councillors have applied Section 37 funds - gleaned from developers
in exchange for bending the zoning rules.

A new condo building at 210 Simcoe was planned to include several affordable-rental units
under a Section 37 agreement.

By EDWARD KEENAN Columnist


Fri., Jan. 16, 2015
Public art:
One of the most traditional uses of Section 37 funds, named specifically in the Planning Act as
an intended application. At 1050 The Queensway in Etobicoke, sculptor John McEwans
Between Heaven and Earth was erected as a Section 37 benefit by Cineplex Odeon in exchange
for a zoning change from industrial to commercial at the site of their new cinema.
Recreational facilities:
Often the funds are used to construct playgrounds or other places for recreation. Councillor (and
former mayor) Rob Ford, a vocal critic of Section 37 as a shakedown scheme, used $75,000 of
such funds to renovate the dressing room at Don Bosco high school, where he was the longtime
volunteer football coach.
Affordable housing:
Former councillor Adam Vaughan and Councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Ana Bailao have used
the clause for a novel purpose: getting affordable housing built. At 210 Simcoe St., Vaughan
negotiated the provision of eight affordable rental units (five for artists, three for students) in a
new 36-story condo tower, in addition to other benefits.
Choose your own adventure
Many Section 37 benefits are simply paid in cash, to be allocated to projects at a later date by the
local councillor. Last year, Councillor Shelley Carroll held a participatory budgeting process in
which she invited her residents to decide how to spend $500,000 in Section 37 funds on local
projects.
Poorly?
The mayors recent call to review Section 37 arose in response to a CBC report about residents
concerns that a developer had been let off the hook for $100,000 of a larger contribution they
thought had been negotiated. To approve an 11-storey condominium on Lake Shore Blvd.,
Etobicoke Community Council approved an agreement that would have accepted $250,000 for
local park improvements. But when the motion came to city council, local councillor Mark
Grimes led a technical motion changing the amount to $150,000. Grimes told CBC it was a
misunderstanding and that the developer had never agreed to the larger amount.
https://beta.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/01/16/the-peculiar-uses-of-section-37-from-publicart-to-affordable-housing.html