Should the City of Toronto take over corporate land for affordable housing?

i/i>, y-edge , and telegraph, london

Berlin was this week voted to seize homes from corporate landowners and use them to build affordable housing. Should Toronto do the same to encourage more affordable living?

On Wednesday, Berlin’s cabinet agreed to allow the city-owned Landgraf facility to take land from private companies, such as Adidas, which is located on the foot of Hitler’s bunker. The buildings would then be used for the benefit of the public.

The programme has been referred to as the Frauenkultur program. Berlin gained possession of the Adidas property in 1997. Adidas tried to prevent its use, but did not succeed. While the company plans to stay at the property, it will receive little in return.

In anticipation of the program, however, Adidas sells off other sites. In 2010, the company offered the city a plot of land in the state of Thuringia for €200,000. After it was purchased by the BKW public rental housing agency in 2015, it was moved into a nearby lot for a project aimed at more than 1,000 new homes. The site of the property must remain empty for three years before it can be reused.

If the plan is extended in Berlin, the city would need to spend around €250m.

Notably, such a programme would not cover the existing corporations on the street level. The Frauenkultur committee would also have to identify affected firms, identifying them beforehand will be difficult, as there are no government regulations that strictly govern such activities.

The ruling Social Democratic party says that this will be the first phase of an action plan, but the general consensus is that there are no resources available to transform the former investment properties into mixed-income housing.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in June 2015 that the federal government would provide funds of $700m for the redevelopment of the Canada Lands Company, which manages properties on behalf of the federal government. The government signed a memorandum of understanding in 2016 and has since made no changes to the scheme.


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