Wave of Proposed Downtown Hotel-to-Condo Conversions
Threatens Toronto’s Lucrative Meetings & Conventions sector

City urged to protect critical hotel room supply in fiercely competitive industry

(Toronto, July 17, 2018) Today, Toronto’s lucrative Meetings, Conventions & Incentive Travel (MC&IT) sector may be under threat by a wave of proposals to redevelop key downtown hotels into predominantly residential condos, threatening thousands of good jobs, warns a new report by Unifor 7575 released today.

Read the full report: http://unifor7575.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/HotelPreservationStrategy.pdf

“Ontario’s MC&IT sector is a key driver of our regional economy, supporting 40,000 jobs in the City of Toronto alone,” explained Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão. “This is a sector we need to nurture, not undermine. As important as residential units are, we need to also be able to retain and attract jobs in our city.”

The report, compiled by Unifor 7575 researcher David Anderson, finds that at least 12 hotels (representing over 4,000 rooms) currently face redevelopment proposals.  “Most of the hotels under threat of conversion are precisely those supporting group business – large, affordable downtown hotel rooms,” explained Anderson.  “And these hotels employ an estimated 2,500 workers.”

One centrally located hotel facing conversion is the Courtyard by Marriott at 475 Yonge St., where Unifor 7575 represents employees.  “Our hotel offers 575 rooms and ample meeting space in the middle of Toronto,” explained Victor Jimenez, a shop steward at the hotel. “But there’s a proposal to cut about 85% of these rooms and replace them with condo units.”

“Large North American cities compete fiercely for group business,” explained Steve Tufts, Associate Professor in York University’s Geography Department, who has studied Toronto’s hotel and tourism industry for decades. “Many successful cities have developed policies to ensure their central business districts have the resources and infrastructure they need to win lucrative contracts – and this includes a strategy for preserving the right mix of hotel room stock in the right places.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future. Unifor is also one of the largest representatives of hospitality workers in Canada, with over 20,000 members in nine provinces, working together as a Hospitality and Gaming Sector Council.  Its Local 7575 represents hospitality workers in the GTA.

For more information, contact:

David Anderson, Researcher, Unifor 7575, danderson@Unifor7575.org;

Thorben Wieditz, Researcher, Unifor 7575, twieditz@Unifor7575.org

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