Jennifer Keesmaat pledges community benefit agreements on all major projects

Jennifer Keesmaat is vowing to build provisions for local jobs and neighbourhood perks part of every major public infrastructure project if she is elected mayor.

John Tory's chief rival and former city planner says she would make community benefit agreements (CBAs) mandatory on projects involving city money.

CBAs can require developers to do all kinds of things including earmark a number of jobs for local workers, provide training, set aside space for community use and add affordable housing. 

A CBA was part of the city signoff on expanded gaming at Woodbine. But Keesmaat highlighted that it came only after some ten years of advocacy from community leaders in Rexdale.

"This should part of the pre-conditions for building in our city. You invest here, you invest in our communities," Keesmaat said Tuesday.

Keesmaat estimates that requiring CBAs could add more than 12,000 jobs in Toronto.

"That means fewer families struggling to keep their heads above water," Keesmaat said. "It means offering economic hope for everyone, for our young people, where none existed, and a pathway away from violence."

The mayoral challenger would also like to require CBAs in private sector development as well.

Keesmaat does not see mandating the signing of community benefit agreements as a deterrent to developers.

"Our city has so many desirable quality of life opportunities that it presents that we know it's not too much to ask industry to be contributing to sharing the prosperity with the people who live here."

Toronto votes October 22.