For years, the ever-escalating price of real estate in Toronto has hampered the city in many ways, one of which is in the ability of artists to stay and create here. Now, a new development proposal is aiming to do something about it.
A proposal for a mid-rise condominium development at 3355 Kingston Rd. by KAD Development Group states that certain residential units in the building will be set aside for artist-led families and that the building’s ground floor space will be used as artists’ studios and working spaces. Planning of these residential units and artistic spaces is managed through the non-profit group art.to.liv and is being coordinated with local artists and the City of Toronto.
Yasmine Hay, art.to.live founder and project manager for 3355 Kingston Road, explained the proposal further, saying, “The goal is really fostering an artistic community.”
“One of our key things is creating living spaces for families,” said Hay. “We’re exploring different models of housing, including rental, but also really looking at affordable ownership, especially since we’re dealing with families. One of the main things is building equity for generational wealth.”
The proposal is still in its early stages. It calls for 309 residential units for the 11-storey building in addition to a row of townhouses.
Hay is the first to admit that the group does not have all the answers. “It’s a collaborative process.”
art.to.live is currently looking to hear from individual local artists along with artistic organizations for their input on the project. Hay said, “if you want to reach out, send us an email. […] We acknowledge that we’re starting new, but we don’t think we know everything.”
“Come tell us what you want. Come tell us how you think this should be. We’d love to hear from you.”
Hay sees this development proposal as being about more than simply a single building, saying, “the way we’re building communities needs to change.”
She said that she believes if this is done right once, she can see this becoming a model for other cities to use in the future; it could be a replicable program to entice developers into building genuinely affordable housing.
As the city of Toronto becomes less accessible to artists, an ostensibly affordable artist space could be of great use to the community if done well. art.to.live is currently working on a website where artists can connect with them about the proposal, but until then they can reach out through the email on the proposal’s website link.