Artist Space in Ward 18

You may recently have read an article in the Toronto Star highlighting the challenges artists at 224 Wallace are facing to secure work space. With the rapid growth and development pressures our city is experiencing, these challenges are affecting artists across Toronto.

Ward 18 this year experienced some of the highest property value growth in the city which has in some cases produced additional financial strain for residents and businesses. With a significant number of artists calling our community home, it is critical that we work to enable the flourishing of artist spaces in our neighborhoods. As a city, we must work together to ensure that in the face of growing development pressures we create an inclusive city with space for everyone and which respects and invites those who have contributed so greatly to the vibrancy and vitality Toronto is known for. 

In Ward 18, I have been working hard with community members to confront this issue and include living and work space for the over one thousand arts and culture sector workers who live in our community. Together with Active 18, City Staff and a development agreement, we secured close to 40,000 sq ft at 36 Lisgar St to support local artists and arts organizations. Our community has also been successful in securing other living and working spaces in the Queen West Triangle, through new developments including the Artscape Triangle Lofts, the inclusion of affordable live-work spaces in the 180 Sudbury St development in addition to the significant contributions made to the Theatre Centre's new home at Queen and Lisgar. 

Maintaining affordability for small scale artisans and manufacturers has also been a priority in Ward 18 to support the various creative and entrepreneurial initiatives underway. As part of the proposed redevelopment of the employment lands at 440 Dufferin St, our community made clear that any redevelopment must preserve all employment space on site. Working together with City staff and our community we negotiated an agreement to construct a new 60,000 sq ft light industrial work building as part of the redevelopment. We also secured a 25-year long term agreement for below market rent spaces on the first and second floors in the building to support a manufacturing incubator program. This agreement ensures the complete replacement of current employment land square footage while providing the facilities and long term viability of diverse local manufacturing and artisan spaces in our community.

As part of the work underway to welcome the Museum of Contemporary_Art_Canada to our community, the former Tower Automotive Building on Sterling Road will be revitalized to support the space needed for the museum and include dedicated working space. The development plans will also incorporate more affordable housing.

In addition to creating and preserving and creating spaces for artists in our community, it is also important that we continue to support artist initiatives through funding and programs. An important measure I am proud to support is an increase in per capita arts funding to $25 as of 2017. The City is also undertaking a review to determine what regulatory and tax mechanisms we have and which we can put in place to incentivize the creation and inclusion of spaces for small, independent businesses and operators. I look forward to the results of this study and will continue to advocate for initiatives which support our arts community.

The proposed redevelopments at the Galleria Mall and Bloor Dufferin TDSB School Lands are further opportunities to support arts and cultural activity and small business spaces which make our neighborhoods unique. It is critically important that as Toronto manages this growth, that we do not price out those who have contributed to building the vibrant city we have. I look forward to continuing to work with you to support the creative activities and artists who live and work in Ward 18.

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