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Olivia Chow brought together various private and public stakeholders on Wednesday to discuss affordable housing development and a “holistic” approach to community building. This marked Chow’s first transition meeting ahead of her term as Toronto’s mayor — a role she will step into next week.

“Toronto needs to build more housing of all kinds. We need more affordable housing and to make sure that communities benefit through good local jobs and other opportunities when we have large development projects,” said Chow.

In remarks to the press, Chow acknowledged that she doesn’t have “all the answers” to the housing challenges facing the city. However, she is invested in the community-focused development model being pursued in Scarborough’s Golden Mile

“There are of course a lot of plans to redevelop this neighbourhood with a huge number of buildings so that it can meet the number of residents that are coming to the City of Toronto,” said the mayor-elect. “[The] challenge is how do you make some of it affordable, how do you integrate people, and how do you have a holistic community so it’s not just people living. They will also have the local libraries and community centres and parks and all of the social infrastructure that makes a neighbourhood successful.”

Wednesday’s meeting was held at the Victoria Park Hub, which is situated on the edge of the Golden Mile district. Chow was joined by representatives from United Way Greater Toronto, Working Women Community Centre, Toronto Community Benefits Network, Woodgreen Community Services, BMO Financial Group, Aecon, Sun Life, and The Daniels Corporation.

Left to right: Daniele Zanotti of United Way Greater Toronto, Darryl White of BMO Financial Group, and Mayor-elect Olivia Chow (Daria Perevezentsev)

“The commitment that I heard today that is extremely encouraging,” she told reporters. “People at this table are saying, ‘We are eager to work together to solve that challenge, to find a path forward.’”

But at the heart of her strategy is “a partnership with people, local residents,” Chow also said.

“And this is part of my transition plan. Instead of having a blue-ribbon panel, I’m coming out to the community, listening, learning, and understanding.”

The next transition meeting will be held later this week. Chow is set to formally take office on Wednesday, July 12.

Cover photo: Daria Perevezentsev via United Way of Greater Toronto

Zakiya is a staff writer with STOREYS. She has reported on real estate for Apartment Therapy, Curbed, and Post City Magazines, and writes a quarterly series for a Canadian design publication.

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