Follow the money trail for this project

The planning application put forth by Diamond Corporation in October for the two-hectare property at Brentcliffe and Eglinton, formally known as 939 Eglinton Ave. East, will certainly change Leaside’s landscape forever.

While I completely understand why some residents at the meeting were against a 1,500 unit mixed-use development, my role as The business of Leaside columnist is to analyze what this means for businesses currently operating here, those that might choose to open businesses in Leaside as a result of the increased residential population, and those who will benefit directly or indirectly from the construction of 939 Eglinton.

For me it’s all about the numbers.

Altus Group Economic Consulting prepared a report for Diamond Corporation in 2013 that examined the economic implications of 939 Eglinton. Here are some of the findings:

  • The construction itself will create an estimated 2,671 person-years of employment. If it takes three years to complete the entire development, we’re talking about 890 jobs over those three years generating approximately $107 million (an average of $40,0000 annually per job) in income for hard-working construction workers in Toronto.
  • On a permanent basis, the retail and office space will create 498 jobs, more than the current building is able to generate. Using the same $40,000 average from above, another $20 million in annual economic benefits would be created as a result of the non-residential components of the development.
  • An estimated $14 million in one-time development charges will come from the sale of condos. Those funds will go to providing services in the City of Toronto.
  • There will be an estimated $2.5 million in land transfer taxes from the initial sale of condos. Future re-sales will generate further revenue for the city.
  • Add an estimated annual property taxes of $3.3 million and another $1.7 million annually in education funding.

So, without looking into the spin-off effects from a development of this size, 939 Eglinton is expected to deliver almost $20 million to the city coffers upfront along with $5 million or more in recurring annual revenue. The federal and provincial governments also benefit from the income taxes paid by both the temporary and permanent employees.

These numbers might seem like petty cash for a city Toronto’s size but every penny counts. It could be the difference between more homeless shelters opening in the city, a subject Leasiders understand all too well.

But forget the economic implications for 939 Eglinton for a moment and instead consider the Eglinton LRT and what return the city, province and feds might expect from their multi-billion investment.

Including inflation the 30-year Eglinton LRT contract awarded to Crosslinx Transit Solutions in June is valued at $9.1 billion. That number includes a substantial completion payment to the consortium.

With 25 stations across the 19-kilometre route, both Bayview and Eglinton and Laird and Eglinton have been identified by the city as focus areas where development is needed to support the employment and population growth expected in Toronto. The city can’t ignore Ontario’s growth plan for the Golden Horseshoe after accepting billions from the province to beef up the city’s transit infrastructure.

Quid pro quo.

Steve Diamond, CEO of Diamond Corporation, stood before all those in attendance at the October meeting at Leaside Memorial Gardens and said he was willing to work with representatives of the community, including Councillor Jon Burnside, to come up with a compromise where everyone wins. I see no reason to doubt him.

The Ontario government is going to continue to push to intensify those areas within 500 metres of the Eglinton LRT stations. If not Diamond’s proposal, another will come along that could be even worse.

They say a deal is a good one when both parties at the negotiation table feel like they gave up something of value. While I have no way of knowing this for certain, it’s my opinion that Diamond is likely to consider a reduction in the number of units ultimately built in return for cooperation from the community.

So, what’s Leaside prepared to give up?

About Will Ashworth 51 Articles
Will Ashworth contributes to Leaside Life.