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In September 2008, City Council recognized Tower Renewal as an opportunity to transform older apartment buildings to result in a cleaner and greener environment, stronger communities with increased social and cultural benefits, and improvements in the local economy. At that time Council gave direction to investigate and develop a range of opportunities at selected pilot locations. A series of feasibility studies was undertaken, focused on the pilot sites, to better understand the impact of Tower Renewal if applied to the over 1,000 strong cohort of concrete slab style apartment buildings.
Findings from Technical Studies
These investigations determined that it would be possible to dramatically reduce energy and water use, increase waste diversion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the apartment building sector. The results of the findings are provided in the attached Tower Renewal Implementation Book. In summary, studies indicate that reductions of 50% in electricity use, 70% natural gas use, 20% water use and waste diversion rates improved by 30% are possible. By addressing this class of buildings, greenhouse gas emissions for the City overall can be reduced by 5%. With City-wide participation, renewal activities will generate billions of dollars in investment and create tens of thousands of person years of employment. Tower Renewal will provide greater opportunities for engagement of people in neighbourhoods and enhance the quality of life for residents.
City-wide Implementation Strategy
There are, however, many barriers to achieving these benefits. Due to the complex nature of the projects and significant upfront cost, coupled with a lack of appreciation by property owners of the full benefits to be gained, Tower Renewal projects will not be undertaken in significant numbers under current circumstances.
To address these barriers, the Tower Renewal Implementation Book outlines the Sustainable Towers, Engaged People (STEP) program that will provide a guide to how and what to do. This program will guide and support the movement of buildings to increased levels of performance. To address the financing challenge, the creation of a new financing option that, once established, can be designed to operate on a self-sustaining basis, is proposed.
Pending Council approval there is a financing option proposed that includes two critical components: creating a “pool” of projects to reduce costs and improve credit terms, and making use of the City’s ability to collect unpaid obligations by way of adding to the tax rolls and according priority lien status to any project payments that might fall into arrears. At approximately $4 million per project, that means providing the opportunity for billions of dollars in local investment. The majority of the pool of funds will be from capital markets. The City, as part of its capital that is available for investment, may direct some investment to the corporation’s pool of funds at competitive rates of return. Implementation of the financing option will require the creation of a new city services corporation and obtaining from the Province legislative amendments to implement this financing structure.
Tower Renewal Reports