Student Residence Floated for Sherbourne Street

By Elizabeth Ford –

On January 12, downtown residents of Ward 13 got their first glimpse of a 10-storey student residence at 294-98 Sherbourne Street, just south of Gerard Street. The building, to serve students of Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson), will be built by MPI Group Inc.

A panel of urban planners unveiled conceptual drawings for the residence, which is to include 153 rooms and 178 beds with single and shared occupancy. Amenities will also include a library, games room, communal laundry, study rooms and 154 indoor bicycle parking spots. Car parking is limited to 73 spots with an additional two for visitors.

Students at the meeting called upon City all levels of government to partner with universities and the non-profit sector to build more affordable student housing. Mayor Tory’s 10-year capital plan of $49.26 billion, released with the operating budget, includes funding for strategic areas such as transit, housing and climate action.

A mature student returning to school for a second time named Simon called out the university for last spring cancelling a high-rise residence that would have housed up to 600 students. Local councillor Chris Moise has said he’d like the school to reconsider that decision.

Rendering – View facing subject site (Prepared by: SUPERKUL Inc.)

“TMU says high-cost construction is the culprit for rescinding their plans. Then how about   supporting sustainable infill construction to jump-start the development of more housing supply” Simon inquired.

Others felt that 10 storeys would not be enough to meet demand and encourage the type of residential growth outlined in the TOcore plan, a 25-year plan that aims to increase intensification and meet targets for job and population growth downtown by 2041.

The planning panel agreed, but said strict zoning laws limit how tall the building can be. Senior city planner Derek Waltho said the original plan was amended so that properties on the east side of Sherbourne could be re-designated from their original Neighbourhoods to Apartment Neighbourhoods to facilitate building upwards.

“The proposed building schemes are compatible with the heritage context outlined in the proposed Garden District Heritage Conservation District Plan,” he said. The Garden District contains an eclectic mix of tall narrow houses and four-storey apartment dwellings, many of them heritage buildings dating back to the Victorian era. 

The TOcore plan, including the Downtown Secondary Plan, emphasizes the need to build high-density housing close to public transit and to enable residents to walk to work. Near the planned student residence are the 24-hour 501 Queen and 504 streetcars, the Sherbourne bus and the College and Wellesley subway stations. The newly minted student residence will place students right in the thick of it all.