Are Movie Studios 'Highest and Best Use' During a Housing Affordability Crisis?

Toronto's answer to the question posed in the headline is, "yes." One columnist wonders if the city can do more to balance its priorities.

2 minute read

December 2, 2021, 5:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A movie studio buildiing located in Old Toronto's Port Lands is fenced off from the sidewalk and protected by a security guard station.

The Pinewood Toronto Studios complex is one of the existing movie studio facilities located in the Port Lands near Old Toronto. | JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

Toronto Star Contributing Columnist Matt Elliott writes a provocative article questioning Toronto, Ontario's commitment to its waterfront as a burgeoning hot spot for film production.

According to the article, 5,500 employees work in the city's Port land area, mostly in industrial or film-related jobs. Now, "Toronto is embarking on a new phase of waterfront revitalization that will seek to protect these industries while also redeveloping the Port Lands."

Elliott describes the revitalization plan—titled "Audacity" and given a green light by the Toronto City Council and Toronto Mayor John Tory in November—as "fascinating from an urban planning perspective."

This industrial activity is happening even as the area around it rapidly develops with new office buildings, new condos, new retail and new public spaces. And while it frustrates me that trucks often block the bike lane across the Redpath driveway — and some people tell me they can’t stand the raw sugar smell — generally all the uses work well together.

One key urban panning consideration that Elliott is endeavoring to draw attention to is the lack of effort being made to develop housing along with all the ambitions new designs for the Port Lands. One deal in particular has raised eyebrows, according to Elliott: "Tory recently announced the city would lease 8.9 acres of city-owned land in the Port Lands to Hackman Capital Partners to build a new $250 million studio hub in the Port Lands."

Thursday, December 30, 2021 in Toronto Star

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