The CBA Movement
The Canadian and international CBA movement is growing. Aside from Ottawa, in Canada there are Community Benefits Networks (CBNs) in Toronto, Peel Region, Hamilton, Windsor-Essex, Vancouver, and one starting in St. Catharines.
Buy Social Canada
A leading advocate, knowledge centre, and mentor in building community capital through social enterprise ecosystems, has been instrumental in the design and delivery of the Vancouver CBA Policy.
Residents who rent in the Herongate community have been in a decade long fight to prevent evictions and wholesale gentrification of their neighbourhood. During the 2016-2018 period, over 180 low income, working-class families were evicted with the intention to replace their homes with upmarket rentals. ACORN Ottawa has been leading the fight and negotiations for a legally binding CBA between the City, Hazelview Properties (formerly Timbercreek Asset Management) and community stakeholders to include affordable housing, no displacement of current tenants, community amenities, and affordable retail. Learn more
Somerset West Community Health Centre (SWCHC) Building Community Together (BCT) project: SWCHC, an OCBN member, supports people and communities providing a range of primary health care and social services, such as promoting access to the social conditions that influence health, and removing barriers to accessing services for vulnerable people. SWCHC applies an advocacy approach where community members are engaged in developing solutions and actively participate in public policy decision making. In 2017, SWCHC initiated the Building Community Together (BCT) project in West Centretown to develop a long-term vision to guide new construction development and community planning. This work has contributed to many neighbourhood-level and city-wide advancements including the exploration of CBAs as a key tool to mitigate the negative impacts of development and gentrification.
Metrolinx and the Toronto Community Benefits Network signed a CBA framework agreement under which two LRT projects have project specific CBAs: i) Eglinton Crosstown LRT, the first large scale infrastructure project in Ontario to include a community benefits program and ii) the Finch West LRT.
In April 2018, Toronto City Council approved a CBA for the Rexdale Casino Woodbine redevelopment, the first CBA to be signed with a project developer. This was the culmination of over ten years of advocacy by Rexdale residents, organizations, and allies across the city.
In Toronto, the Regent Park Community Benefits Coalition was formed by the Regent Park Neighborhood Association (RPNA) with support from local community organizations and the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN). In March 2020, the coalition secured a Community Benefits Framework Agreement with Toronto Community Housing for Phases 4 + 5 revitalization in Regent Park.
In 2018, Vancouver City Council approved the launch of a CBA policy which applies to both public and private developments. A mandatory CBA stream comes into effect when proponents with projects of over 45,000 square metres request a rezoning. Under these circumstances, the development proponent must agree to: implement a CBA and demonstrate “best efforts” to achieve CBA targets in order to get the construction permit; be monitored for compliance; and, in order to get the operations permit, must continue to demonstrate best efforts. There is also a voluntary CBA stream for projects less than 45,000 square metres.
Toronto City Council supports a multi-faceted program approach to CBAs where there are legal authority levers to enforce compliance, e.g., procurement, real estate agreements related to city-owned land; financial incentives and unique scenarios such as consent for the casino expansion. The CBA Framework comprises an ambitious Social Procurement program focused on supply chain diversity and workforce development so as to improve access to the city’s supply chain for diverse suppliers and leveraging meaningful training and employment opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and equity seeking communities. The Housing Now program was established in 2018 to create new affordable rental housing on city-owned real estate. Each Housing Now project is required to develop a Community Benefits Plan outlining the development’s objectives and targets for supplementary community benefits (e.g., local and social hiring).
As part of the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2015, the Ontario Provincial Government identified five provincial infrastructure projects as Community Benefits Pilots, including the West Park Health Care Centre.
In 2018, the British Columbia Infrastructure Benefits (BCIB) agency was established to provide a qualified workforce for the construction of public infrastructure projects operating under the Community Benefits Agreement. There is an emphasis on providing opportunities to underrepresented workers such as Indigenous peoples, women, and people with disabilities.
Through the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, a CBA was developed for the Windsor-Detroit Gordie Howe International Bridge development, with a focus on Workforce Development and Neighbourhood Infrastructure.
Under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, in 2018, Infrastructure Canada initiated the Community Employment Benefits (CEB) initiative to allow for flexibility for provinces and territories to identify appropriate targets for the achievement of CEB from larger projects receiving funding. The initiative targets infrastructure project outcomes that enable apprenticeships to help Indigenous peoples, women, persons with disabilities, veterans, youth, and recent immigrants, as well as support Indigenous owned and social enterprises.
In May 2021, Infrastructure Canada announced over $13 billion for public transit projects in the GTA and Hamilton. The federal money emphasizes maximizing “high quality jobs and benefits for communities including through mechanisms such as Community Benefits Agreements”. The funding backgrounder notes, the “government understands that every taxpayer dollar invested in public transit must have multiple benefits including creating good jobs, building more equitable and inclusive communities, improving the quality of life for all, and tackling climate change.”