Community Benefits and Tower Renewal

Community Benefits and Tower RenewalThe Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) contains close to 2000 aging high-rise apartment towers, many of which house low-income populations. Significant physical rehabilitation coupled with social and economic revitalization is needed to transform these buildings into healthy and sustainable communities.

The intent of the Tower Renewal program is to use the proceeds of infill development on tower sites, where land is available and such development is feasible, to subsidize energy retrofits of existing towers, as well as to expand opportunities for economic diversification and social infrastructure.

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This report looks at how Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs), or community benefits clauses, could be used for a proposed pilot project, and for the Tower Renewal program more generally. However, the findings and recommendations in this report also have application to private development proposals, and point the way to potential policy changes at the municipal and provincial government level.

Specifically, this report recommends:

  1. Use of a multi-party (hybrid) model that includes, as one party, an independent agency to help negotiate, implement, monitor and report on community benefits.
  2. An extensive engagement process, co-created with residents of the existing tower that focuses both on energy reduction and community benefits.
  3. Benefits created with and by the local community that are measurable and clearly specified. Commitments should apply to subcontractors and other parties, as applicable, and provisions should assign responsibilities and mechanisms for trouble-shooting, enforcement, monitoring and evaluation.
  4. Support for the creation of a construction workforce hub in Toronto – a coordinated approach for all projects using CBAs that makes it easier for jobseekers to get the training and supports they need, and easier for employers to meet their commitments.
  5. Setting a realistic target for local procurement, unbundling contracts to enable local suppliers to bid, and running technical assistance workshops as part of the early community engagement strategy.
  6. Ensuring sufficient attention is paid at an early stage to resourcing all of the functions needed to ensure successful implementation of community benefits, from early engagement to post-project evaluation.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary
Introduction
What Are Community Benefits?
Community Benefits in the U.S., Scotland and Canada
The U.S. Experience
Scotland
Canada
Lessons Learned & Best Practices
General Principles
Best Practices
Business, Legal and Policy Issues
Application to Tower Renewal
Conclusion
Endnotes
Bibliography
Appendix