A free standing concrete tower.

Community Benefit Agreements

New Evergreen report points to community benefits as a mechanism to connect investments with greater social and economic returns.

Toronto, ON, September 21, 2016.  There are nearly 2,000 high-rise apartment towers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), which are home to nearly one million residents and make up a large proportion of the affordable housing in the region. Most towers were built between 1950 -1970 and are aging and badly in need of rehabilitation and revitalization.

Community benefits are an emerging mechanism to grow local economies, extend employment opportunities to those who face difficulties entering or staying in the workforce, and help enable social and neighbourhood regeneration.

The report released today highlights how community benefit agreements work and their applicability to the Tower Renewal vision including the challenges, key learnings and findings from other jurisdictions.

“As the report points out, community benefit agreements are still a relatively new phenomenon in Canada and more research and education will be needed to facilitate their widespread adoption. The Tower Renewal model could offer such an opportunity to embed community benefits in a unique context that integrates the physical, social and economic revitalization of a tower neighbourhood. As all levels of government are in the midst of making new infrastructure investments, community benefits could ensure those investments reap greater social and economic returns at little incremental cost, linking together housing, new infrastructure investments and poverty reduction. ” Robert Plitt, Executive Director of Evergreen CityWorks.

 

This report was supported by the Atkinson Foundation, which works to promote social and economic justice in Ontario by investing financial and other resources to leverage community assets. “Since 2014, the Atkinson Decent Work Fund has supported research, advocacy and community organizing projects like this one aimed at creating decent work to share prosperity in Ontario. Evergreen CityWorks has made an essential link between Tower Renewal and community benefits strategies in the Greater Toronto Area, and a valuable contribution to the discussion with this paper."  Colette Murphy, Executive Director, Atkinson Foundation

 

As a follow up to this report, Evergreen is looking at the community benefits and their relationship to infrastructure investment more broadly and municipal asset management planning.

 

This research was authored by Dina Graser and completed thanks to the generous support of the Atkinson Foundation.