CBA Campaigns

Update Downsview Secondary Plan and Community Development Plan

This month, Toronto City Council will be voting on the Downsview Secondary Plan and Community Development Plan that will guide the future of a 30+ year development at Downsview.

On Tuesday, TCBN deputed and submitted a letter in full support of the Downsview Community Development Plan and eight priority areas which aligns with our vision for Downsview as a thriving, inclusive, diverse, affordable and environmentally sustainable neighbourhood for decades to come. Our letter also includes targets and expectations identified through our CBAforDownsview campaign including:

  • inclusive local economic development
  • social procurement
  • neighbourhood improvements including affordable commercial spaces, affordable housing and ownership 
  • environmental sustainability and development 
  • Accountability mechanisms and monitoring, tracking and public reporting
To join in the discussion, join us for our Downsview affordable housing event on Tuesday May 7th at 5:30pm and TCBN Downsview General meeting on Tuesday May 21st, 2024 at 6pm. 


TCBN Submission on EC12.2 - Downsview Community Development Plan

Members of the Economic and Development Committee and City Council 

Toronto City Hall 

100 Queen St W 

Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Dear Chair and Members of the Economic and Community Development Committee and Toronto City Council, 

The Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN) is submitting this letter today in full support of the Downsview Community Development Plan and eight priority areas. 

The TCBN, a 120-member city wide community-labour coalition situated within the Downsview surrounding area in North York, has led an extensive engagement process through consultations with over 1,500 local community members, stakeholders and member organizations over the past two years. Engagement activities included community outreach, petitions, participating and hosting events in the community and a neighbourhood tour in collaboration with Northcrest Development.

We would like to recognize the ongoing support and active leadership from local Councillor James Pasternak who has attended numerous TCBN events and community engagement activities expressing strong support for our vision in Downsview as a thriving, inclusive, diverse, affordable and environmentally sustainable neighbourhood for decades to come. 

As a Black-led local organization, we would also like to recognize the deep community engagement with local residents and stakeholders, Indigenous and Black communities led by the intervisional City of Toronto staff teams from Community Development, Social Development, Finance and Administration, Economic Development and City Planning during the Secondary Plan process and by Canada Lands Company and Northcrest through the Id8 Downsview engagement process. 

Specifically, we would like to highlight the commitment and leadership by Northcrest Developments to be the first private sector developer to participate in the City of Toronto’s voluntary approach to establishing Community Benefits Plans under the Community Benefits Framework, a commitment which was announced by Northcrest Development at the GTHA Summit on October 28th, 2023. The summit was an event hosted by the Toronto CBN, Peel CBN and Hamilton CBN that brought together over 200 residents, community and labour members, organizations, government and political representatives and employers from across the GTHA at Toronto City Hall. 

TCBN has long advocated for equitable approaches and planning tools to support inclusive economies and sustainable development as part of large infrastructure and land use developments in communities across Toronto, and proudly supported the motion to start this work in 2022. (MM47.1 by City Councillor Joe Mihevc)

As a Black-led organization and local community stakeholder, we look forward to the continued engagement, participation and collaboration in the next phase of the Community Development Plan specifically as it relates to implementation of the action plan priorities, governance and establishing baseline targets and measures for monitoring, tracking and reporting of outcomes. 

In closing, the TCBN is in full support of the proposed Community Development Plan and eight action areas. We would like to recognize the support from local Councillor James Pasternak, the Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee, Alejandra Bravo, and City staff in helping to develop this innovative and interdivisional approach to equitable city building. We hope such an approach sets the standard for future Secondary Plans, Official Plans and economic development plans for Toronto. 


Rosemarie Powell 

Executive Director 

Toronto Community Benefits Network 

Community Priorities for Inclusive Economies and Community Benefits at Downsview

Through our CBAforDownsview campaign, steered by the Downsview Community Benefits Committee which included local residents and member organizations from community and labour, the TCBN has identified a number of key themes and priorities for inclusive local economies, equitable and sustainable development actions that are reflected in each phase of the land use planning process and as part of formalized agreements to deliver on community benefits targets:

Priority Areas

Targets and Expectations 

Good jobs and inclusive economies 

  • Meet the TCBN minimum standard of 10% apprenticeships trades and/or craft working hours on a trade-by-trade basis to be performed by apprentices from equity deserving groups with a focus on Black and Indigenous communities 
  • Ensure minimum 50% target for equity hiring and minimum 25% for local hiring in new professional, administrative, technical, operations and maintenance roles with a focus on Black and Indigenous communities 
  • Ensure employment opportunities that pay a living wage across all phases of construction and development

Social procurement

  • Minimum 20% social procurement target through purchasing goods and/or services from local businesses, social enterprises and businesses that are owned by persons who identify as Indigenous, Black or Persons of Colour.

Neighbourhood Improvements

  • Minimum 30% affordable housing on public land and 20% affordable housing on private land including affordable and community ownership in each phase of with 50% being deeply affordable or Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) for a minimum of 99 years
  • A plan for affordable below market rate commercial and micro retail space opportunities are available to nonprofits, social enterprises, Black-owned and Indigenous-owned businesses 

Environmental sustainability

  • Ensure equitable and sustainable development that commits to the highest level of Toronto’s Green Standard, a program that supports a ‘just transition’ for green jobs and careers, the adoption of innovative green building design and materials, sustainable micro mobility initiatives and preservation parks and open spaces for culturally specific community-led initiatives

Accountability and Transparency through community oversight 

  • A public commitment by each landowner through a Community Benefits Framework that leads to an agreement for community benefits for each phase of development at Downsview. Such agreements would include measurable targets in development contracts and a commitment to ongoing community oversight, monitoring, tracking, public reporting in each phase of development. Community oversight should also include representation from Indigenous-led and Black-led organizations and residents 

About the Toronto Community Benefits Network 

Since 2014, TCBNs advocacy and engagement in local communities across Toronto has led to formalized frameworks and agreements to ensure responsible development with commitments to community benefits, social procurement, neighbourhood improvements and targets for inclusive local economic pathways for Black, Indigenous and equity deserving groups into good jobs and opportunities including apprenticeships, professional, administrative and technical and long-term stable careers. 

TCBNs programs with member organizations from community and labour, working with employers and contractors to facilitate pathways into construction, for Indigenous,Black and equity deserving groups especially amongst Black youth, women, newcomers and contractors who historically have been underrepresented and have faced significant barriers to opportunities in the sector. Our work has also focused on hosting events like the Green Build Career Fair, working with employers, unions and contractors to promote green careers, skills development and training opportunities in neighbourhoods across Toronto. 

The TCBN also hosts the Canadian Building Diversity Awards, the premier event celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion across Canada. The upcoming 4th annual celebration, on June 14th, 2024 "Building A Sustainable Future" will honor the visionaries and trailblazers fostering a more inclusive future in the construction industry.

Neighbourhood Climate Action Grant – 2024

The Neighbourhood Climate Action Grants will be launching on April 22, 2024. Grants of up to $7,500 will be available for resident-led climate action projects.
The Neighbourhood Climate Action Grants aim to increase awareness and engagement on climate action at the local level by funding activities and events that:

  • Reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change
  • Educate and engage the public on climate change and climate action
  • Advance the principles, priorities and actions of TransformTO Net Zero Strategy and the Toronto
    Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy

Please feel free to promote this opportunity widely! Applications will be accepted until June 12, 2024. Learn more and APPLY HERE.

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A Framework to Advance Inclusive Economic Development in Toronto

The TCBN is encouraged by the City of Toronto’s leadership to advance a new Framework for Inclusive Economic Development, and agrees with the pressing need for a paradigm shift in the City’s approach to economic growth as economic prosperity has not been equitably shared among Toronto residents. 

According to the 2021 Canadian Census, close to 35% of Toronto residents made an after-tax income of less than $30,000 a year, whereas an estimated 10% made an income of more than $120,000. The overall average after-tax income was reported at $49,080. Census data collected every five years shows a pattern of average income levels in individual Toronto neighbourhoods moving further away, both up and down, from the overall city average.1 

The TCBN recommends that the City take into consideration the following measures as it develops its approach and Framework for Inclusive Economic Development: 

  1. Acknowledgement of systemic racism and discrimination that permeates our society as a first step towards dismantling the barriers that hinder the progress of equity-deserving groups, particularly Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities in building community wealth. The disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on these communities have highlighted the entrenched inequalities that have long existed. Disaggregated data tracking, monitoring and reporting must be a critical component of this Framework 
  2. The City must be clear and intentional in setting goals and targets for what change it intends to achieve to ensure decent work and inclusive economies by: a) improving employment standards and working conditions for local residents, especially in precarious sectors of the economy b) developing tools to remove barriers to economic participation like access to capital, access to procurement opportunities, training and affordable child care c) improving the quality of life of Toronto residents through local pathways to good jobs, business opportunities and housing options across the affordability spectrum 
  3. The City must acknowledge the intersections of the climate crisis, housing affordability crisis, and economic inequality, recognizing that these issues are intrinsically linked and require holistic solutions and the development of new and innovative tools/approaches. 
  4. The City must identify immediate opportunities to update, monitor, report on and strengthen existing City levers like the Social Procurement Program, Community Benefits Framework, Fair Wage Policy and advocate to other levels of government to be part of the solution in strengthening the local economy, promoting and protecting good local jobs and building community wealth, equitably.

To read TCBNs full letter to the Economic and Community Development Committee please visit here. We thank City Councillor and Chair of the Economic and Community Development, Alejandra Bravo and Committee members for their deep engagement on this important item. 

Summary (from City website) 

This report proposes the endorsement and application of a three-pillar framework to advance city-wide inclusive economic development (IED) and neighbourhood / area focused community economic development (CED) in Toronto. The three pillars of the proposed inclusive economic development framework are (a) inclusive workforce development and sector pathways; (b) inclusive entrepreneurship and asset ownership; and (c) research, monitoring and equity impact.

This framework posits that inclusive economic development occurs when economic opportunities and outcomes improve across Toronto's population and neighbourhoods - including its Indigenous, Black and equity-deserving communities - in parallel to overall growth of the city and regional economy. Inclusive economic development refers specifically to municipal touchpoints with the labour market and Toronto business sectors, particularly focussed on supports for employment pathways, entrepreneurship and business development.

Visit the City website here.

Build A Better Fairview

Since 2022, the TCBN has supported the Build A Better Fairview coalition, a group of residents, community and service organizations dedicated to the responsible, equitable and sustainable development of the Fairview area. BABF is actively working with local City Councillor, Shelley Carroll to ensure Cadillac Fairview meets the community’s expectation for equitable and responsible development as part of its Fairview Mall development plan. Read the updates from the North York Community Council meeting last month, BABF’s letter and deputations from local residents here.

Toronto FIFA2026 Men’s World Cup

On March 26th, 2024

Last week, the TCBN was proud to join community, labour, transit advocacy, worker rights and migrant rights groups to advocate for a human rights approach and vision for Toronto's participation in FIFA 2026.

Thank you to Deputy Mayor Ausma Malik, Councillor Alejandra Bravo and Councillor Diane Saxe for advancing key areas including community benefits, decent work and fair wages, protecting vulnerable community members and workers, supporting local businesses, environmental leadership and legacy opportunities.

On March 9th, 2024

Last week, the City Executive Committee received an update on Toronto’s FIFA2026 Men’s World Cup planning. With six games now confirmed in Toronto, new projected costs are estimated at $380M. TCBN and allies are calling for the City to commit to good, green jobs and a human rights approach that includes living wages commitments, local and equity hiring targets for apprenticeship hours, professional and operational roles, social procurement targets and a supply chain diversity plan with public oversight and transparency. Thank you to Deputy Mayor Ausma Malik and City Councillor and Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee, Alejandra Bravo for your continued support in championing a strong community benefits approach to FIFA2026. Read letters submitted by TCBN, Toronto & York Region Labour Council and Buy Social Canada.

Transit Oriented Communities

Infrastructure Ontario and the provincial government are planning 14 new transit oriented communities, many of which are on public owned land, including 11 along the Ontario Line. Last month, the TCBN and community benefits ambassadors participated at public consultation meetings hosted by Infrastructure Ontario to highlight the importance of Community Benefits Agreements, affordable housing and an equitable approach through meaningful engagement with local communities for each project. Many residents and community organizations continue to raise concerns of gentrification and rising rents that are already pricing them out of their neighbourhood. Read the CBC article here 

$30B+ In New Public Transit Projects

With the four new transit projects including Ontario Line underway, TCBN remains concerned with Metrolinx and the provincial government’s silence on a Community Benefits Agreement. The TCBN continues to work with members and local organizations in impacted neighbourhoods to ensure Metrolinx upholds its commitments made to the community. In February at Queen’s Park, MPP Stephanie Bowman (Don Valley West) called on the provincial government to keep its promises to local communities like Thorncliffe Park and sign a Community Benefits Agreement.

CLC Downsview Arbo District Plan

Canada Lands Company is moving forward with its Downsview Arbo District Plan with a proposal to build 1,100 to 1,400 residential units for a total of 3,600 to 4,000 units. The current plan includes 20% affordable housing at 80% Average Market Rent for 25 years and commitments to support a Downsview community centre.

On January 24th, TCBN participated at the North York Community Council meeting and urged support for our CBA for Downsview campaign which calls for: 

  • A Community Benefits Agreement with targets for apprenticeships, local and equity hiring 
  • Commitments to neighbourhood improvements, environmental sustainability and investments in community infrastructure, recreation and services
  • Commitments for minimum 30% affordable housing and ownership with 50% of that being deeply affordable or Rent-Geared-to-Income for 99 years

You can view the letter submitted to North York Community council here, the CLC Arbo District Plan here as well as the Zoning By-law Amendment report here.

TCBN Ontario Line Advocacy

On Jan 24th TCBN attended the City of Toronto’s Toronto East York Community Council, where Rosemarie Powell presented on the Ontario Line. TCBN continues to advocate for Metrolinx to commit to a Community Benefits Agreement as part of the estimated $18 billion Ontario Line public transit project and that all contracts include requirements for Community Benefits and Workforce Development plans that ensure local and equitable hiring targets with transparency and community oversight. Metrolinx has yet to fulfill its promise to update Ontario Line RFPs and project agreements to include community benefits.

We thank the TEYCC and Deputy Mayor Ausma Malik who supported a motion asking Metrolinx to include updates on these items in the next quarterly report.

Advancing the CBA Framework

On Friday February 05, 2021 Toronto City Council approved the report on ‘Advancing the Community Benefits Framework’ which outlines key action steps and activities to implement the Framework over the next year.

Since November 2020, the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN) with support from community, labour and institutional partners has encouraged City Council to take bolder steps in the implementation of its Community Benefits Framework in response to the immediacy of the health, social and economic crisis facing Black, Indigenous and other racialized people in our City.

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