The City of Toronto Releases Community Benefits Framework Report
The City of Toronto (the “City”) released the report, “Advancing Community Benefits Framework” on January 13, 2021 (the “Report”). The Report summarizes the City’s plan to move the Community Benefits Framework forward and continue to create inclusive social and economic development opportunities throughout the City. The Report will be considered by City Council on February 2, 2021.
The Framework focuses on achieving supplementary community benefits that produce social and economic development opportunities that can be enforced through existing municipal authority or levers. Examples of these benefits include workforce development and social procurement. This is a separate community benefits framework from a community benefits charge under the Planning Act.
Ultimately, the Report recommends that City Staff report back to the Economic and Community Development Committee in Q3 of 2022 with a progress update on the design and pilot testing of the Framework implementation models.
Current and Planned Initiatives
The Framework was adopted by City Council on July 16, 2019, although some of the initiatives were commenced earlier. The City currently has four active community benefit initiatives:
- Social Procurement Policy and Program – helps include workforce development and supply chain diversity requirements in select procurement contracts;
- Housing Now Initiative – large-scale affordable housing development projects;
- Rexdale-Casino Woodbine Community Benefits Agreement – contract with One Toronto Gaming that contains a range of community benefits; and
- Manufacturing, Innovation and Technology Program – provides aid to property-tax rebate recipients including local employment requirements attached to each agreement.
These four initiatives have produced over 120 contracts for community benefits. Additionally, there are at least 10 new community benefit initiatives currently being reviewed by the City. Some of these upcoming initiatives include Metrolinx Expansion Projects, Don Summerville Revitalization and Waterfront Toronto – Quayside.
This increase in demand for community benefits and the necessity of equitable economic recovery from COVID-19 has created an urgent need for additional staffing resources and time to develop the back-end infrastructure to support the Framework.
The next stage of implementation will therefore include creating coordinated system approaches to local and social hiring pathways; disaggregated data collection and tracking; and creating “How To” protocols to guide the City and its stakeholders. The City will also attempt to better define equity-seeking populations, establish processes to set hard targets, development mechanisms to expand the pool of diverse and local suppliers and strengthen engagement with employers and industry leaders to forecast opportunities.