Housing and healthcare under one roof

Plans for two condo developments inspire future-forward 'inclusive' model
Wednesday, July 5, 2023
By Rebecca Melnyk

In a city lacking affordable housing and access to family physicians and quality healthcare for all, one condo project is setting out to combine these uses under one roof through an innovative model that serves the surrounding communities.

On a 3.5-acre site at 1635 Lawrence Ave West and Black Creek Drive in Toronto, Spotlight Development intends to transform a strip mall into The Inclusive, a four-tower development of 15 to 35 storeys. The project, currently awaiting approval, will include a mix of 60 to 70 per cent affordable units and 30 to 35 per cent market-rate units, a 24-hour daycare, retail, employment services, on-the-job training and schooling programs embedded into the project, and a 100,000-square-foot medical centre.

For people in the area who lack a family or referring physician, the facility will deliver health services, including urgent care, a diagnostic centre, mental health supports and a pharmacy for those without transportation to access medications. Addressing women’s health concerns is also part of the conversation.

The exact same healthcare-housing model is being repeated in a condo development at Courtland Avenue East near Block Line Road in Kitchener-Waterloo, which is fully approved and zoned. The plan for that 6.5-acre site shows four residential towers with more than 2000 units, 60 per cent affordable and 40 per cent market-rate.

Sherry Larjani, president of Spotlight Development, has been involved in many other residential projects that offer diverse and inclusive communities. She says the vision for adding a medical centre comes from extensive research into the underserved communities around the sites.

The data revealed healthcare-related factors that hadn’t been considered, from families with children on the autism spectrum who are either waiting for a diagnosis or resources, to an elderly population in need of mental health supports. These groups benefit from early intervention, which is often delayed due to access and financial instability.

“How do we help them so they can get the services that they need and take the burden off of our healthcare system?” Larjani posed during a phone interview. “Future problems could multiply if these problems are not addressed early on. We think of this as a solution to many problems our healthcare system is currently dealing with.

“On the other side, we also think about it as housing providers. We can offer incentives to the people who would be working within these healthcare components of our projects.”


The Toronto iteration of The Inclusive features four residential towers and mid-rise buildings. Photo by Spotlight Development.

Workers would be offered housing and subsidized units so they’re giving back to the communities they are living in. As immigration soars to unprecedented levels, the workforce-housing aspect is also geared to Canada’s many newcomers, including youth, who will be living within the towers.

“The training and schooling programs would be PSW workers or nurses, where we can train families or youth living within our community and then take them into a project and give them jobs at different locations,” says Larjani.

“So, it will all be feeding each other, but also benefiting the youth living in transitional housing who are going to be needing jobs and education.”

Spotlight has partnered with various non-profit agencies for both projects. Government approvals and finding the right mix of stakeholders is integral to providing the proper services. The KW project involves Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region, Trillium Housing and Good Shepherd Ministries, which already focuses on mental health support for the elderly.

These groups will all help deliver the affordable housing portion geared for low-to-moderate income families, seniors, newcomers and various underserved groups. “Veterans are still dealing with PTSD and other matters, so we are going to be working with providers on the veterans side to offer the right healthcare directed to those groups,” says Larjani.

Feature photo: At the Kitchener-Waterloo site where The Inclusive will rise with the same healthcare model envisioned for the Toronto project. From left is Sherry Larjani and Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region CEO Philip Mills. Photo by Eventgraphers.



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