Earlier this month, a wave of harsh winter weather triggered a large-scale power outage that plunged nearly 87,000 Toronto Hydro customers into frigid darkness, with some not getting power restored for several days.
It was a distressing ordeal, particularly for vulnerable senior citizens with no one to help them, and little choice but to wait things out, hoping for the best.
These folks wouldn’t need to worry if they lived at Harmony Village, a new condo community by City Core Developments at Sheppard Ave. E. and Warden Ave. The complex will be protected from power failures and blackouts by an on-site co-generation system that will supply the majority of Harmony Village’s electricity needs, and at a lower rate than the local utility (the development will be tied into the public hydro grid, as well).
The co-generation system also captures excess heat, and will use it to warm the project’s swimming pool and melt snow around the property, among other things.
“No longer will residents have to stock up with candles or flashlights as insurance for a power failure,” says City Core CEO Jack Pong. “When the lights go out in Toronto, Harmony Village will still be lit up. Neighbours will wish they lived here.”
The first building to go on sale at Harmony Village is a 30-storey tower with 291 units ranging from 388 to 1,071 square feet. Prices go from $183,000 to $523,000. Subsequent phases will include a second tower, as well as a midrise building and townhomes.
The bulk of the buyers for the first tower have come from the Chinese community, according to City Core’s Jessica Pong, who notes the company brought in a feng shui expert to assist with the design of the spaces, “so everything looks perfect and balanced and beautiful.”
Harmony Village, which caters to active Boomers and Zoomers, will enable residents to have an independent lifestyle while also providing them with access to the supports and services that allow them to age in place gracefully. (City Core has a similar project, Harmony Village Lake Simcoe, in Barrie.)
Residents at Harmony Village Sheppard will have the option of getting meals delivered from eateries located at the base of the building. There will also be pay-per-use recreation programs like tai chi, yoga, aquatics and dance, as well as wine-tasting events and cooking classes.
The project will include a 35,000-square-foot amenity space, with an indoor pool and hot tub, wine cellar, yoga/pilates studio and fitness facilities; as well as outdoor terrace gardens with lounges.
Jack Pong was driven to develop Harmony Village after witnessing the gap that existed in seniors’ housing while searching for a place for his ailing mother to live nearly a decade ago.
“My grandmother developed Alzheimer’s and had to move out of her home to receive round-the-clock care at a nursing home,” Jessica Pong explains. “At the time the choices for someone like her were pretty sad and limited, basically a mix between a mental health facility and a daycare.”
These places didn’t focus enough on the emotional needs and feelings of residents, and they lacked any sense of fun and enjoyment. “Patients were basically made to just sit in a room all alone all day.”
The experience had a deep impact on Jack. “My dad was always really affected by this, that he wasn’t able to provide for his mother a relaxing, nice place to spend her final years.”
The idea for Harmony Village grew out of this. The community aims to make it easier for seniors to remain with spouses, even if one partner’s condition takes a turn.
“They can stay together within their own spaces, but they’re able to add on services, like emergency response, or nurses on call, or meal delivery,” says Pong. “The things that make their life easier as they change and grow.”
And if residents can no longer, say, use a shower properly, “we can install those systems for them. It’s all set up to be able to do that.”
Harmony Village will have space in the podium of the complex for medical professionals, potentially a health centre and Chinese medicine doctor, as well as a pharmacy.
In addition to being powered by a co-generation plant, Harmony Village will be heated and cooled by a geothermal energy system, with wells dug down 750 feet into the earth to extract energy that’s clean, sustainable, and renewable.
“It means huge savings on utility bills for residents,” Pong says. “And you’re not burning fossil fuels, which is important.”
A full TTC bus route services the Harmony Village area, and the planned Sheppard subway extension will include a stop right outside the door. And the building is only a short drive from the Highway 401/Highway 404 junction.
All of it will enable residents to live independently and actively, with access to the necessary supports and services needed for worry-free golden years.
“We want residents to enjoy themselves,” Pong says. “We care about the people we’re bringing in here, that’s why we’re creating a great environment for them.”
Harmony Village Sheppard
Location: 3260 Sheppard Ave. E.
Developers: Core Developments | Fortress Real Developments
Architect: Page + Steele IBI Group Architects
Size: First tower: 30 storeys
Units: 291, from 388 sq. ft. to 1,071 sq. ft.
Prices: From $183,000 to $523,000
Ryan Starr is a freelance journalist based in Toronto.