TORONTO — The largest representative of hotel workers in the Greater Toronto Area is pushing back against Great Eagle Hotels (Canada) Ltd’s plan to redevelop the Chelsea Hotel in downtown Toronto.
Great Eagle’s redevelopment proposal is currently under appeal before Ontario’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). Unite Here Local 75 recently received party status before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
The Chelsea Hotel is the largest hotel in Canada offering 1,590 rooms for visitors to Toronto. In 2015, an application was filed by Great Eagle Hotels (Canada) Ltd. to change the zoning of the Chelsea Hotel site to permit a mixed-use redevelopment consisting primarily of residential condominium units.
In May 2018 Great Eagle reached a settlement with the City of Toronto. As part of this settlement, the redevelopment will be required to include a new hotel containing a minimum of only 400 hotel rooms. The union says this would represent a loss of nearly 1,200 hotel rooms in the heart of Toronto’s downtown.
An LPAT hearing on the merits of the proposed redevelopment is scheduled to start Oct.1. Unite Here Local 75 says it intends to challenge the settlement reached between Great Eagle and the City of Toronto.
Unite Here Local 75 says it engaged urbanMetrics Inc. to conduct an independent analysis of the travel and accommodation industry within the city. Not surprisingly, the urbanMetrics study found that overnight visitors spend significantly more than same day visitors. In 2016, overnight visitors to the area spent more than $6.4 billion, or 80 per cent, of the $8.0 billion in total visitor spending, almost $1.4 billion of which was spent on accommodation.
In 2016, one in five overnight visitors to the GTA were convention and business visitors and more than 1.4 million convention and business overnight visitors spent over 3.7 million nights in a hotel located in the region.
The study also showed that convention and business visitors spend 1.5 times the average spending per visitor than any other type of visitor. In 2016, convention and business visitors spent $1.92 billion in the region, with 89 per cent of this spending coming from overnight visitors.
In 2016, total visitor spending in the region stimulated ±$6.1 billion in total economic output, supported more than ±77,880 full-time years of employment, generated total labour income of ±$3.7 billion annually, and generated total government revenues of an estimated ±$2.4 billion in total taxes.
“The urbanMetrics’ analysis should serve as a wake-up call for city officials and everyone involved in Toronto’s tourism and hospitality sector, particularly if Toronto is to stay competitive with other major cities in Canada and across North America,” says Nuredin Bulle, Unite Here Local 75.