The Greater Toronto Area contains a heritage of nearly 2,000 post-war concrete residential tower blocks located throughout the region. The presence of this remarkable collection of modern housing represents an architectural, planning and construction legacy unique to North America. (For more on the history, visit here). This inheritance of high density neighbourhoods provide significant opportunities to create a sustainable, prosperous and connected region, able to meet the challenges of the 21st Century; accommodate growth, alleviate poverty and help grow the green economy.
Currently, many of these communities are among Toronto’s most impoverished and most in need of significant reinvestment. Pushed to the margins of urban discourse in the years following Toronto’s rejection of modernism in the 1970s, until recently, there has been little discourse as to the future of these neighbourhoods.
To address this, Tower Renewal is a new policy direction focused on the potential for tower neighbourhoods to emerge as self-sufficient, economically vibrant, socially diverse, culturally integrated and ‘low carbon’ communities. Tower Renewal’s aim is to foreground Toronto’s extensive stock of modern housing, and their future potential in a green and equitable Toronto.
Tower Renewal was adopted by Toronto City Council in September 2008 with a holistic set of values and objectives concerned with fostering empowered and vibrant communities within an equitable and sustainable region. These objectives are outlined in the Tower Renewal Opportunities Book, and relate to:
- Green Neighbourhoods: significantly reducing environmental impact;
- Complete Communities: providing the full range of community services, amenities, housing option, work opportunities and cultural outlets that make a neighbourhoods thrive;
- Heritage: Retaining the existing building stock and thoughtfully responding to the built, natural and community heritage;
- Quality: Engaging in Tower Renewal according to best practices for a well designed and beautiful City
An emerging new direction for the City of Toronto, Tower Renewal is focused on the long-term stewardship of Toronto’s significant tower stock. Working alongside city building initiatives such as Transit planning, Live Green Toronto, Priority Neighbourhoods and the Ontario Growth Plan, Tower Renewal is a key strategy in achieving city-wide sustainability, prosperity and liveability goals while creating a positive legacy for what is undoubtedly an invaluable housing resource throughout Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario.