About Community Benefits

What is Community Benefits Agreement, or CBA?


A CBA is a proven way to provide jobs and other benefits for community residents. In many countries, communities demand CBAs when new Industrial-Commercial-Institutional developments occur or when public sector projects are built.

Based on practices in the US and elsewhere, a Community Benefit Agreement CBA is defined by:

  1. A signed, legally enforceable agreement, having clear monitoring and enforcement mechanisms;
  2. Specificity to a particular construction project (rather than an institutional policy);
  3. An inclusive, collaborative and accountable process of leveraging a development project towards achieving a broader range of policy objectives such as equity, poverty reduction, environmental sustainability and local economic development;
  4. A CBA details in writing the specific benefits that a community will receive from a given development project.  These benefits might include equitable hiring practices, funding for training and apprenticeships, neighbourhood improvements, social procurement, etc.;
  5. There is substantial community involvement in all phases of the CBA.

(source:  Julian Goss, Community Benefits Agreements: Definitions, Values, and Legal Enforcement, Journal of Affordable Housing, Vol 17:1-2, Fall 2007/Winter 2008.  Also see: Good Jobs First and the California Partnership for Working Families, “Community Benefits Agreements: Making Development Projects Accountable,” 2005.)  

The TCBN defines community involvement as going beyond public consultation and into direct engagement on a development project. We expect that an “involved” community group will be recognized by the project’s principle parties (the public sponsor or developer and the contractor) as a partner with roles in the design, implementation, performance monitoring, enforcement and overall evaluation for a development project on matters relating to the community benefits that have been mutually agreed as project objectives.

What is the City of Toronto CBA Framework?



On July 18 2019, almost four years after City Council approved the TO Prosperity: Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy, the City of Toronto adopted a new landmark Community Benefits Framework which will create more opportunities for training and well paying careers in the trades through Apprenticeships with hard targets for hiring Toronto residents from historically disadvantaged communities and equity seeking groups. In addition, the framework will create more opportunities for local, diverse owned businesses and social enterprises to access City contracts through social procurement.

The community benefits framework will apply to:

  • City Led Projects - Construction projects of the City and its Divisions, Agencies, and Corporations 
  • City Owned Land - As requirements within leases on City-owned land (e.g. Real Estate Services, CreateTO, Housing Now Affordable Housing Initiatives)
  • Financial Incentive - Where the City is providing a financial incentive for a new private development project 
  • Voluntary - Where community groups and developers are both willing to enter into discussions about community benefits on private developments on privately-owned land

Details: Community Benefits Framework 

The adopted Community Benefits Framework will include:

  • Hard targets for workforce development on projects that fall under this Framework. Hard targets will vary between 5-10% depending on project
  • A commitment to hire a new Community Benefits Coordinator to support tracking, reporting and implementation at the City 
  • The establishment and convening of a multi-stakeholder Community Benefits Advisory Group (including representation from equity seeking groups) to provide expertise, address real-time community benefits implementation challenges and solutions, and promote transparency and accountability in the City's community benefits activities
  • The Community Benefits Coordinator will work with a Data Analyst to develop and implement a City-wide community benefits data system to monitor, track and report on City of Toronto community benefits targets and/or achievements on a project by project basis, to be published on a City webpage
  • Scarborough Training Centre: Utilize the Sir Robert L. Borden property located at 200 Poplar Road as a job skills training centre to assist job candidates from equity seeking groups, including Indigenous peoples, by providing pre-employment training and employment supports prior to and during employment, to maximize employment retention in eastern Scarborough

Report Back: The City will also be reporting back on a few items that will help the City to understand best practices and bring forward additional recommendations for City Council to make an informed decision. This includes: 

2020 report back: A) Recommendations to advance the City of Toronto's community benefit initiatives, including additional and/or higher minimum hard targets; B) a jurisdictional scan of best practices related to hard targets on community benefits, including community engagement, criteria and actual hard targets; and C) an indication of the required resources to move the Community Benefits Framework forward. UPDATE FEBRUARY 5, 2021: City Council approved changes to strengthen the CBA Framework.

2022 report back: Status update on the Community Benefits Framework Implementation Plan, and recommendations for Community Benefits Framework future direction.


What is a Low Carbon Economy?


With the Low-Carbon Learning Module, we will be preparing new entrants to the trades with an understanding of
climate change, its growing impact on building practices, and the need to learn new skills and processes that will be required in their sector. The majority of trades are doing “green work” but this is not promoted within the value proposition of these career paths. This is a missed opportunity to attract underrepresented groups, including youth and women, who will be seeking careers that align with their values. Surfacing this important feature of trades work through the curriculum, will encourage future construction workers to track and pursue, or advocate for, new skills and opportunities as they arise. They will become allies with leadership within the sector in planning the way forward as their trades’ skill sets must change in response to climate change and climate action. There are limited formal and informal mechanisms for the sector to track, understand and respond to, and skill-and-career trends and opportunities that climate change adaptation produces.