Toronto Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday in the council chamber at City Hall on Thursday. (Veronica Henri/QMI Agency)
Toronto deputy mayor Doug Holyday rattled downtown councillors Thursday when he questioned why anyone would want to raise kids in the heart of the city.
During a debate on a development application for 323-333 King St. W., Holyday tried to delete a requirement for the condo building to have 10% of its residential units as three-bedroom units.
Holyday stressed he wasn’t “opposed to families living downtown or anywhere else” but told councillors the downtown was “certainly not the ideal place” to raise kids.
“I don’t think we have to force 10% of these units to be three-bedroom units to accommodate families if there is no market for it,” he said. “Why do we have to interfere in this way? There is absolutely no reason for it.”
Holyday said he thinks most people wouldn’t wish to raise kids downtown.
“I can just see now, where’s little Jenny? Well, she’s downstairs playing in the traffic on the way to the park,” he said.
The Etobicoke councillor told reporters he “personally wouldn’t want to raise my kids on King St. or Yonge St.”
“Some people might and if they do that’s fine. My point was that we don’t have to dictate to the developer that 10% of those units, and that’s about 30 units, have to be three-bedroom units aimed at families. If there is a market for that the developer is quite able to provide that and would and so be it,” he said. “If they wish to do it, they can do it. Who am I to say that? I’m saying I personally wouldn’t wish to be on a 47th floor of a condominium building at the corner of King and John with three kids.”
Left-leaning councillors were quick to accuse Holyday of trying to ban children in the downtown.
“I understand the deputy mayor doesn’t just want to ban children downtown, he also wants to ban sex in the inner city so we don’t create more constituents,” Councillor Adam Vaughan joked. “I’m not sure how you’d enforce it.”
Vaughan — who was born and raised downtown and is raising two children in the downtown — balked at Holyday’s comments.
“I think children who come out of the downtown are just wonderful,” he said. “They are no better or worse than kids born in any other part of the city. I don’t know why the deputy mayor would want to ban children in the downtown core — they are just part of what makes the great city we live in.”
It makes sense to encourage developers to build three-bedroom condo units, Vaughan said.
“We’ve now approved over 1,000 of these units in the downtown core and they are now selling as easily as any of the other units,” he said.
Councillor Mike Layton — who was raised downtown — said the city’s core has a “tonne of great stuff to offer youth.”
“I see no reason why we should eliminate families from our core,” he said.
Layton said telling developers to put three-bedroom units in their buildings is no different from telling them to put in amenity space, green roofs and parking spots.
“This is just one of the ways we can have development actually shape our city for the better,” he said.